The digital currency use-case was the inaugural, revolutionary promise of blockchain technology. And in the years since first-mover Bitcoin hit the scene, numerous cryptocurrency projects have sprouted up in an attempt to provide their own solutions as payments-focused cryptocurrencies.
These cryptos range from having small market capitalizations to massive market caps, and they all bring different advantages to the table.
Without further ado, then, we’ll walk you through some of the most notable payments cryptocurrencies to help you get an idea for this distinct “asset class” within the digital assets ecosystem.
OmiseGo is the largest ERC20 project by market cap at present, though OMG will be shifting to its own native blockchain soon. Backed by Omise, a popular payments company in Southeast Asia, OmiseGo has the distinction of being one of the few lucky projects to be advised by Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin.
OMG’s blockchain will enable a decentralized financial ecosystem, as the project’s blockchain itself will support a “decentralized exchange, liquidity provider mechanism, clearinghouse messaging network, and asset-backed blockchain gateway.
OMG will also be the first project to implement Ethereum’s Plasma scaling solution.
Request Network (REQ)
Request Network is aiming to be the PayPal 2.0 of the blockchain revolution. And, in a certain way, OmiseGo and Request Network have similar goals, so the two projects are interesting hedges to have against one another (or with each other) in a portfolio in the years ahead.
As the REQ whitepaper explains:
“Request is a decentralized network that allows anyone to request a payment (a Request Invoice) for which the recipient can pay in a secure way. All of the information is stored in a decentralized authentic ledger. This results in cheaper, easier, and more secure payments, and it allows for a wide range of automation possibilities.”
Ripple is a project focused on providing global payments solutions to international banks by offering liquidity “on demand.”
To this end, Ripple is heavily marketed toward banks and financial institutions, and if it fulfills its promises, it could be a titanic project that’s around for decades to come.
Recent reports suggest Asian banks are starting to trial Ripple transfers. And, in other adoption news, Ripple just announced that it’s paying for popular currency transfer service MoneyGram to begin Ripple trials of its own. Developments like this may be just the beginning of a bright future for XRP.
Stellar Lumens (XLM)
Stellar Lumens is based off of a hard-fork of Ripple, so to this end, the two projects are natural payments competitors — certainly in a much more direct sense than the aforementioned competitive dynamic between OmiseGo and Request Network.
Accordingly, the brains behind the project are especially excited for XLM’s potential to provide liquidity between uncommon currency exchanges, with XLM functioning as a quick and easy go-between.
For now, Stellar Lumens is much smaller than Ripple, so it’s the underdog going forward. But there’s no reason to think the project won’t gain ground as it comes to be popular in its own right.
Cardano has generated much excitement as of late in being part of the so-called “third-generation blockchains” and the wave of “Ethereum-killers.”
Headed up by former Ethereum developer Charles Hoskinson, Cardano is designed, like Ethereum, to be a financial applications and smart contracts platform and currency-like simultaneously. In this fundamental sense, Cardano is different in kind from the other projects described on this list.
And with reports that Cardano ATMs are popping up in Japan, you can see how the cryptocurrency is already starting to be treated like like a mainstream currency in Asia.
Litecoin is the so-called “silver” to Bitcoin’s “gold.” Litecoin creator Charlie Lee wastes no opportunity to highlight that Litecoin is faster and cheaper than its presently congested older brother.
Impressively for Litecoin, then, it functions more successfully as a literal currency than the more entrenched Bitcoin currently does. That’s making LTC an attractive alternative for merchants dealing in cryptocurrencies at present, as transacting in LTC keeps confirmation times and fees low.
The project is an underdog, to be sure, and it has plenty of competitors. But it’s unquestionably one of the more popular payments cryptocurrencies right now.
Bitcoin (BTC) & Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Even with the heavy congestion on the Bitcoin network right now, BTC is still the gold standard used by the vast majority of crypto-based merchants and freelancers. Its fees and wait times may be painful right now, but its first-mover dominance isn’t going anywhere for the near future.
Conversely, and like Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash is becoming an attractive payments alternative for merchants because its presently much quicker and cheaper to transact in BCH than in BTC.
Both projects clearly have their own places going forward. But with the “Bitcoin” moniker to their names, they are the OGs of crypto payments.
Metal is a lesser known crypto payments project that is undervalued at present. Being an ERC20 token, it’s like OmiseGo and Request Network in being Ethereum-based.
Metal’s angle? To help merchants switch to cryptocurrency use as seamlessly as possible, offering at least 4 percent savings on transactions for said merchants. The process will be facilitated by Metal’s mobile app, wherein users can manage crypto and fiat monies.
The project has some impressive developers working on it, and the future looks bright from here accordingly. But the project’s success will inherently depend on how well Ethereum scales in the months ahead.
Decred is sharply focused on being a payments cryptocurrency, but its claim to fame is the project’s focus on “community input, open governance and sustainable funding and development.” In other words, it’s a democratic, decentralized payments project.
DCR is also exciting in that it’s one of the first cryptocurrency swaps to successfully complete an atomic swap with Litecoin. The implications this has for decentralized trading in the future are huge.
Decred may be overlooked in favor of other projects, but it’s definitely a crypto to keep an eye on going forward. It may end up being a darkhorse winner.
Love it or hate it, Monero is quickly becoming the dominant payments option among privacy coins. It’s not that XMR was explicitly designed to foster nefarious transactions, it was simply designed to facilitate superior anonymity.
But linking Monero solely with crime is a naive mistake. Monero is a fungible currency, just like cash. As such, it’s arguably one of the most fundamentally effective currencies in the digital assets arena.
Can Monero go mainstream in the future? Definitely. Does it have an uphill battle considering how regulators won’t like the radical privacy it brings to payments? Sure. Regardless, Monero is unquestionably an interesting play.
This list isn’t comprehensive by any means, but it does spotlight some of the most notable payments cryptocurrencies in the space today.
So long as people keep coming around to cryptocurrency use, payments are going to be one of the most explosively booming use cases for blockchain technology.
Some projects will come to be superseded by others, but there’s room for everyone to grow and compete along side each other while the cryptocurrency ecosystem is still so young. For these projects to truly succeed, they’ll all have to effectively tackle the problem of scaling. But there’s no reason to think scaling won’t be solved in the coming years.