A Breakdown of the Top Cryptocurrencies Over the Last 5 Years
If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re familiar with coinmarketcap.com (CMC). The website has long been the go-to source for cryptocurrency price and market capitalization (market cap) data. As we approach the 5 year anniversary of its launch, we’ll take a year by year look at the history of its top ranked coins, using its historical snapshots.
April 28th, 2013 – The first 7 cryptocurrencies tracked by coinmarketcap.com
More than 4 years after Bitcoin was launched, CMC began tracking cryptocurrency prices and market caps. On April 28th, 2013, only 7 cryptocurrencies were listed.
Note: It’s important to note that although this is one of the best ways I could come up with to look through historical cryptocurrency price data, CMC does not immediately track all cryptocurrencies as soon as they’re traded. Thus some coins that were being traded on exchanges at the time of these snapshots, were not being tracked by CMC and will not show up in the snapshots.
With a market cap of $1,503,882,095 Bitcoin (BTC) had 94.2% market dominance of all cryptocurrencies’ combined market cap ($1,596,170,359). No other coins were even close to the magic Billion dollar market cap. Behind BTC, Litecoin (LTC) was the only altcoin to hold a somewhat significant percentage in overall market cap at 4.7% ($74,426,612).
If you’re relatively new to the world of cryptocurrency, you likely don’t recognize any of the original 7 coins aside from BTC and LTC. In the nearly 5 years since CMC launched, these 5 altcoins have all lost popularity compared to new projects. None are currently ranked in the top 100 cryptocurrencies and Devcoin hasn’t been traded in the last two years of our snapshots.
April 27th 2014 – The Altcoin Craze had Begun
Roughly a year after launching, coinmarketcap.com was now tracking 237 cryptocurrencies. Combined, the global market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies was now $6,379,308,587, roughly a 300% increase from the prior year.
In the top 20 coins below, you’ll likely start to recognize a few more of them. Ripple, today valued at roughly a $20B market cap and the 3rd largest cryptocurrency, had launched and entered the top 4 cryptocurrencies with a market cap of $41,479,931. Dash held the 10th spot with a $7,230,012 market cap and today is value at about $2.5B (rank 12). Lastly, you almost certainty recognize Dogecoin, who held the 5th spot with a $34,902,156 market cap. The success of this meme based cryptocurrency foreshadowed many crazy crypto investments to come.
Despite some new technologies entering the fray, Bitcoin still held 90.9% market dominance at a $5,796,072,588 market cap. Litecoin nearly maintained its market dominance percentage, while no other coins had become major players.
Again many of the times top coins have gone on to lose significant popularity.
The table in the image below shows the data points for these 20 coins’ historical rankings. Only 4 of these coins remain in the top 20 today, while a total of 6 are in the top 100.
Note: At the end of this post I’ll show a look at all coins historical rankings.
April 26th, 2015 – The only bear market period of my research
The time between April 27th, 2014 and April 26th, 2015 was a rough one for many cryptocurrency investors. The global market cap of all coins had dropped from $6,379,308,587 to just $3,561,088,935 (-44.18%), representing the only down period of the dates I researched. Despite generally being a bearish market, we continued to see the addition of new coins still widely known today in the top 20 coins. Notable additions include Stellar, Bitshares, MaidSafeCoin, Monero, and Bytecoin, all of which remain in the top 100 coins today.
Bitcoin continued to see its market dominance slowly lose its grasp, while Litecoin’s market dominance dropped substantially relative to where it was the prior year (1.5% from 4.6%). Ripple (XRP) was the largest beneficiary of BTC and LTC’s loss in market dominance, as XRP’s rose from 0.7% to 7.2%. XRP also claimed the number 2 rank, surpassing Litecoin. While BTC (-46.44%) and LTC (-82.24%) saw substantial losses in market cap during this period, XRP actually increased by 518.88%.
There were now 545 total coins tracked by CMC, yet the vast majority had incredibly small market caps.
Like previous years top 20 coins, many faded into obscurity, though more stuck around than in past years.
Of the top 20 coins from April 2015, 6 remain in the top 20 and 12 remain in the top 100 today. Unfortunately, Banx made its way into the top 10 coins before quickly dying. It possibly represents one of the first major cryptocurrency ponzi schemes.
May 1st, 2016 – Prices Recover and A New Major Player Emerges
In this May 1st, 2016 snapshot, the global market cap ($8,421,018,669) had reached new heights after struggling the year prior. CMC now tracked 563 coins, just 18 more than the prior snapshot.
Ethereum, having launched on July 30th, 2015 had picked up steam to become the 2nd largest cryptocurrency by a decent margin. Bitcoin, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash, MaidSafeCoin, Dogecoin, Monero, Stellar, BitShares, Peercoin, YbCoin, NXT, and Bytecoin all maintained their top 20 status for the second year running (13 of the top 20 coins).
Notable newcomers to the top 20 included NEM, Factom, Steem, and Emercoin who have all maintained top 100 coin status in our most recent snapshot.
As the chart above and table below show, 16 of the top 20 coins have maintained top 100 coin status today, while 8 remain in the top 20.
Bitcoin (87.2% to 82.7%) and Ripple (7.2% to 2.8%) lost market dominance, largely to Ethereum which now made up 8.3% of the global market cap.
April 30th, 2017 – The Rise of ICO Tokens and Privacy Coins
In the April 30th, 2017 snapshot, we began to see the rise of ICO tokens and an emphasis on privacy focused cryptocurrencies. The global cryptocurrency market cap reached $35,311,853,717 (+319.33% from last snapshot) spread across 767 different coins.
Augur and Golem, two ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum platform managed to crack the top 10. Meanwhile, privacy focused cryptocurrencies Monero, Zcash, PIVX, and Decred held 4 of the top 20 spots.
Today, all of last years top 20 coins have stayed in the top 100 cryptocurrencies.
9 of last years top 20 cryptocurrencies have remained in the top 20.
In the period between the 2016 and 2017 snapshots, cryptocurrency market dominance saw some significant changes. Bitcoin’s dominance dropped to 60.8%, from 82.7%. Ethereum’s dominance grew to 17.9%, from 8.3%, continuing to put distance between it and the crowd.
Today (April 8th, 2018)
Today coinmarketcap.com tracks 1560 cryptocurrencies with a global market cap of $270,982,721,495. Despite the recent bear market, the global market cap is still up 667.40% since the 2017 snapshot. The number of coins tracked by CMC has nearly tripled, largely due to the explosion of initial coin offerings.
In the spreadsheet below (or here) you can view our April 8th, 2018 market cap data taken from CMC. You can also see each cryptocurrencies historical ranking from previous historical snapshots.
Bitcoin’s market dominance has continued to drop, as did Ethereum’s for the first year. Today, investments into cryptocurrency are spread among a huge number of different projects.
The last year has seen a continued trend of cryptocurrency dapp platforms and “blockchain ecosystems” rise in popularity. Currently these platforms’ coins (or tokens planning to launch one of these platforms) make up 9 of the top 20 ranked cryptocurrencies.
Over the last 5 years the global market cap of cryptocurrencies has seen tremendous growth. A lot of cryptocurrencies have come and gone over this period. Despite this, investors are more interested than ever before in altcoins. Only time will tell whether a large number of cryptocurrencies can coexist or if we’ll see a smaller number of coins gain dominance.