Over the last decade, cryptocurrency, or an encrypted method of digital currency, has gone from an interesting novelty to a worldwide phenomenon. Although a wide variety of cryptocurrency options are now available, this rise in popularity and usage has one principal variety to thank – Bitcoin. Even among all the competition that has filled in niches since its initial release in 2009, bitcoin remains at the forefront of the cryptocurrency field today.
Although bitcoin was the first world-famous cryptocurrency, it wasn’t the first implementation of the idea in history. The idea of cryptocurrency was first conceived in the 1980s and implemented in a more limited form in the 1990s. What bitcoin did pioneer was the idea of a decentralized cryptocurrency, meaning that its status and value is based on distributed consensus rather than a central authority or third party. Bitcoin came only a year after the market crash of 2008 and provided a modern answer to some of the anxieties caused by the crisis. The market collapse stemmed from irresponsible behavior by large banks and fiscal authorities, and bitcoin offered a method of currency that removed this threat from the equation.
Thanks to both its timely implementation and decentralized innovation, bitcoin stood at the forefront of a newly opened market. Of course, other cryptocurrencies would soon attempt to enter the market, and some found marked success. One major success was Litecoin, which premiered only a couple of years later and offered a focus on lightning-fast transactions. On the other hand, the internet-focused nature of cryptocurrency also led to some joke spinoffs, like the surprisingly popular Dogecoin based on a meme of a dog. Nonetheless, none of these other options could achieve the same recognition or universality as bitcoin, and the difference was exacerbated as some popular businesses began to accept bitcoin as a form of online payment.
Surging confidence in bitcoin was finally shaken around in 2018, when the consistently rising value suddenly fell, shaking the hopes of many investors. As time has passed, however, what should have been apparent even then has become increasingly obvious and bitcoin isn’t so easily defeated. The cryptocurrency holds as much utility as ever, and its maintained necessity and the emergence of more large international investors has helped its value rise significantly since its losses, well on its way back to the highs that it once held.
Of course, bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency that’s currently flourishing. Although options like Dogecoin that were based around trends haven’t maintained the same relevance that they had at their peak, other alternatives like Litecoin remain quite popular. Others have emerged in the time since the first few years of cryptocurrency and now. Monero, created in 2014, offers an even more privacy-focused solution than bitcoin and continues to grow in popularity. Yet the large retailers like Overstock and Newegg that accept bitcoin haven’t moved to directly accept these other crypto currencies. Ultimately, most bitcoin alternatives have found success in serving niches. Crypto currencies that don’t offer some specific appeal to certain consumers have no way to gain a foothold against bitcoin, and ones that do end up lacking the mainstream appeal and acceptance of bitcoin.
If you’re ever curious, you can easily test the waters by asking friends, family, or colleagues if they’re familiar with different crypto currencies. Even people who don’t know what a cryptocurrency is will often at least have name recognition with bitcoin but are unlikely to have heard of even the most popular alternatives. The word bitcoin itself is even simpler and more accessible than the overarching term of cryptocurrency and two short and memorable syllables that convey both its digital status and nature as currency.
Ultimately, the large-scale recognition of bitcoin, its acceptance with major retailers, and its proven ability to rebound from loss of value exemplify and reinforce the staying power of bitcoin. Even if other crypto options bring some level of stability, privacy, or niche application to the table, there’s not enough ammunition available to ever rise above a juggernaut on the level of bitcoin. Today, bitcoin is more accessible than ever, with friendly and easy-to-use applications for computers and mobile devices that open the world of cryptocurrency up to far more people than its competitors can access. There’s no monopoly, of course and it’s in the world of currency, after all and but bitcoin will doubtless remain the poster child of crypto for years to come.