What is an altcoin?

13 June 2023

The concept of altcoins in simple terms

Altcoin is a cryptocurrency that is an alternative to bitcoin, the very first and best known cryptocurrency. If we assume that the iPhone is bitcoin, then all Android smartphones are altcoins.

There are now thousands of altcoins. Each of them has its own unique features, applications and communities. Popular altcoins include Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, and Bitcoin Cash.


Types of altcoins

  • Platform Coins - designed to be used as a platform for creating decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts.
  • Privacy Coins - for increased privacy and anonymity of transactions. 
  • Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies whose value is fixed and tied most often to the U.S. dollar.
  • Utility coins - used to pay for access and services in a particular ecosystem. 
  • Payment coins - created to be used as a means of payment (both online and in the real world).
  • Governance tokens - used so that stakeholders in a particular blockchain ecosystem can vote on key decisions, such as upgrades to the network or changes to the consensus mechanism. 
types of altcoins


Stablecoins are convenient for investors and traders who want to hedge against volatility and other risks. They are also useful for merchants who want to accept cryptocurrency payments without the risk of volatility.

While there are many advantages to staplecoins, they are not without certain risks. For example, steblycoins backed by fiat currency are only as safe as the bank accounts holding the base currency. 

Stablecoins are also used by ordinary users. The most popular option is to send each other Tether USD (USDT).



Memcoins are a type of cryptocurrency that has gained wide acceptance in the cryptocurrency industry, especially in recent years, due to its viral nature and humorous origins.

Memcoins, or meme coins, are often created as a joke or as a trend on social media rather than for serious investment purposes. They have catchy names and symbols that refer to a popular event or phenomenon and can quickly gain popularity on social networks such as Reddit and Twitter.

One of the most famous meme coins is Dogecoin (DOGE), which was created in 2013 as a parody of the bitcoin craze. Despite its joke origin, Dogecoin has become a perfectly legal cryptocurrency with a market capital of billions of dollars and has been supported by famous personalities such as Elon Musk.

Utility or service tokens

Utility tokens are a type of cryptocurrency that provides users with access to a specific product or service within a blockchain-based ecosystem. They are intended to be used as a means of payment for the functions that a particular blockchain platform provides. They are not viewed as an investment or speculation option.

By providing access to a particular service or product, utility tokens can encourage users to interact with the platform and contribute to its growth and development.

An example of popular utilitarian tokens is the Binance coin (BNB), which is used to pay trade fees and other services on the Binance exchange.

Control tokens

Management tokens are a type of cryptocurrency used to manage the decision-making process within a particular blockchain-based ecosystem. They allow owners to vote on proposals and make decisions that affect the direction and development of a project.

Management tokens are often used in decentralized autonomous organizations. 

One of the most popular examples of management tokens is the MakerDAO (MKR) token, which is used to manage the MakerDAO protocol, a decentralized lending platform that allows users to borrow and lend cryptocurrency without the involvement of a centralized intermediary.

altcoin trading


Forks refer to the development of a new cryptocurrency through copying the code of an existing cryptocurrency and making some changes to the protocol. This is often done to improve the original cryptocurrency or eliminate perceived flaws in its structure.

One of the most famous examples of a fork in the altcoin realm is Bitcoin Cash (BCH). BCH was created by forcing the bitcoin blockchain to increase the block size limit from 1 MB to 8 MB. This made transactions faster and cheaper.

Security Tokens

Security tokens are a type of cryptocurrency that represents a share in a real asset. They are designed to provide investors with the benefits of classic securities.

Such tokens are subject to regulations, securities laws that are designed to protect investors and ensure transparency in the financial markets. This means that security tokens must comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) laws and be issued through licensed security token exchanges.

differences between altcoin and bitcoin

The main differences between altcoin and bitcoin

  • Bitcoin was developed primarily as a digital currency, but many altcoins are created for other purposes - providing faster transactions, increasing privacy, or supporting decentralized solutions.
  • Bitcoin has the largest market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies, occupying about 40-50% of the entire cryptocurrency market. Altcoins tend to have a smaller market capitalization, with some of them struggling to gain significant popularity or widespread distribution.
  • Bitcoin is being accepted by a growing number of sellers; many altcoins are not getting much traction.

Altcoin: advantages and disadvantages

The advantages of altcoins

  • Altcoins provide an opportunity to diversify your cryptocurrency portfolios by reducing your exposure to any one particular cryptocurrency. This can help reduce risk and improve overall portfolio performance.
  • Many altcoins offer unique features and capabilities that bitcoin does not, such as faster transactions, increased data protection, or the ability to support decentralized applications.
  • Some altcoins have lower transaction fees than bitcoin, making them a more cost-effective option for users who want to send and receive cryptocurrency.

The disadvantages of altcoins

  • Altcoins often have low liquidity, a small user base, and less developed technology. All of this contributes to greater volatility and higher risk.
  • Altcoins have less widespread distribution and acceptance than Bitcoin, which limits their usefulness and value. 
  • With so many different altcoins, it can be difficult for investors to navigate the market and choose the best options. This leads to confusion and the need to spend time analyzing, especially for novice investors.
  • As the cryptocurrency market continues to grow and evolve, the risk of regulatory intervention increases. Altcoins may be particularly vulnerable to regulatory scrutiny, which could affect their value and viability as an investment.

Prospects for investing in altcoins: opinion of Cryptology experts

Investments in altcoins are high risk. Despite their growth potential, they often lead to losses. You should always strive to choose altcoins that have real value and are created to solve real problems.

Still, it is altcoins, rather than the well-known and widespread coins, that offer investors special prospects. Altcoins can bring hundreds and thousands of percent per annum, they can be compared to penny stocks, thanks to which a small initial deposit can be raised to millions of dollars.

But Bitcoin, Etherium and other top 10 coins are already kind of conservative investments, like Apple, Microsoft and IBM.

Altcoins are therefore high risk, but also high income potential.

If you want to learn more about altcoins and get skills, experience and tools that you can immediately apply in the cryptocurrency market - sign up for trading courses at the CRYPTOLOGY trading academy.

Frequently asked questions about altcoins

What are altcoins?

Altcoins are all cryptocurrencies except bitcoin. This includes thousands of different digital assets, each with their own unique characteristics and purposes.

Which altcoins are the most popular?

The popularity of altcoins can change over time, but some of the most well-known include Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC), Cardano (ADA), and Polkadot (DOT).

What are altcoins for?

Altcoins can have different purposes, such as improving blockchain technology, creating unique applications, alternative means of exchange, and more.

How to buy altcoins?

To buy altcoins, you need to create an account on a verified crypto exchange and then use traditional money or bitcoins to buy your desired altcoins.

How to store altcoins?

Altcoins can be stored in cryptocurrency wallets, which come in hardwar, software and online wallets. Hardwar wallets are considered the most secure.
Join our mailing list. No spam.
Only exclusive offers.