Top 10 Most Popular Cryptocurrencies In 2021

The List of Top 10 Cryptocurrencies Right Now: BTC, ETH, And More

22 Min Read
Last Updated July 23rd 2021

Bitcoin and Ethereum are likely to remain the most popular cryptocurrencies in 2021 and beyond. 

Table of contents

This year has already been a big one for the cryptocurrency industry. Not only has there been market-wide price surges in the opening quarter, but the emerging trend for non-fungible tokens and continued attention from business heavyweights like Elon Musk has led to renewed interest in the potential of blockchain technology.

Cryptocurrency could be said to have crossed into the mainstream at this stage, as people from all walks of life have begun trading digital currency - from casual investors and day traders looking to profit from the volatility of the market, to digital artists and app developers looking to share their work online. 

So, What is the most widely used cryptocurrency? If you ask most casual market observers for the most well-known token, they will invariably answer Bitcoin - and they’d be correct - but looking further into the top ten most traded cryptos yields quite a few surprises. What’s more, things seem to be getting shaken up quite a bit lately. 

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At a Glance: The Top 10 Most Popular Cryptocurrencies

Before we dive into the particulars of the most widely traded coins, let's take a look at which are actually on the list. Here are the top ten most popular traded cryptocurrencies at the time of writing:

  1. Tether
  2. Bitcoin
  3. Ethereum
  4. Ripple
  5. Dogecoin
  6. Tron
  7. Cardano
  8. Binance Coin
  9. Binance USD
  10. Litecoin

 

Bitcoin is undoubtedly the most well-known and valuable cryptocurrency in existence, but based on 24-hour trading volume, it was actually the comparatively unknown Tether that took the number one spot.

Here is a list of what are the most popular and traded coins across the crypto market. 

1. Tether (USDT)

  • Market Cap: $61bn
  • Highest Price: $1.21
  • Current Price: $1

Background

Tether is known as a stable coin as each token is backed by the US dollar. Founded in 2014, Tether was specifically created as a bridge between fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies to offer additional stability and hedge against market volatility. 

What Makes Tether so Popular?

The reason for Tether’s popularity is markedly different from that of the other tokens on this cryptocurrency list. Its high liquidity is inevitably linked to its stability. Investors use Tether as a means of holding value. With each token being backed by $1, it should in theory hold its value, especially compared to other, notoriously volatile, cryptocurrency tokens. 

It is often used as a medium holding for investors who do not want to move their funds out of the cryptocurrency market. 

A Short Price History:

Tether is pegged to the US dollar and so maintains a near one-to-one ratio with the fiat currency. There have been fluctuations according to supply and demand, but the highest USDT has been is around $1.21 and at its lowest was $0.89.

Expert Comment:

“The popularity and adoption of cryptocurrency and blockchain continue to grow, we expect USDT to continue to explode in popularity.”

Justin Sun, TRON founder and CEO

2. Bitcoin (BTC)

  • Market Cap: $696bn
  • Highest Price: $64,863
  • Current Price: $37,538

Background

The original cryptocurrency and arguably what put blockchain technology on the map. Bitcoin was created back in 2009 as a new form of peer-to-peer payment, removing the need for a central authority, such as a bank or government body. Bitcoin achieved this by its unique proof-of-work consensus mechanism, with its now-famous mining system that eliminated the double-spending and allowed for a secure, decentralised system of exchange. 

What Makes Bitcoin so Popular?

Being the first cryptocurrency doesn’t necessarily make Bitcoin the best cryptocurrency - in fact, there have been numerous altcoins created to address apparent shortcomings in the original cryptocurrency’s technology. So what made Bitcoin so valuable

Since the COVID pandemic, many investors have lost faith in traditional markets and Bitcoin has been seen as a way to hedge against inflation and future uncertainty.

Whilst there are numerous other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin’s dominance as the market leader means it is comparatively stable. It is also one of the most widely accepted tokens for retail transactions, with payments giant PayPal offering support for BTC as of 2020. 

A Short Price History

Bitcoin’s price history is already the stuff of legend. The cryptocurrency gained notoriety in 2013 when, having traded at no more than a few dollars for its first few years of existence, BTC soared from $350 to $1,242. By December of 2017, Bitcoin had hit $19,783, before the crypto bubble burst and prices took a tumble. However, going into 2021 Bitcoin has had several record-breaking bulls, reaching an all-time high of $64,863 per token. 

Expert Comment:

“I am pretty confident in Bitcoin to $100K by the end of 2021."

Anthon Pompliano, Co-founder at Morgan Creek Digital 

3. Ethereum (ETH)

  • Market Cap: $316bn
  • Highest Price: $4,362
  • Current Price: $2,729

Background

Developed in 2015, Ethereum was the first of a new wave of ‘second generation’ cryptocurrencies with enhanced capabilities. Whereas Bitcoin simply offered the exchange of a digital token, the Ethereum architecture could support apps, smart contracts and even the development of new cryptocurrency tokens thanks to its programmable ecosystem. 

What Makes Ethereum so Popular?

It is an exciting time for Ethereum. Whilst it has long held the number two spot behind Bitcoin, the ongoing Ethereum 2.0 upgrade and the impending shift from a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism means that the original smart network now has more potential than ever before, as well as the scalability required to keep up with ever-increasing demand. 

Whilst Bitcoin is still traded in far higher volumes, Ethereum now dominates social media, with more YouTube users watching videos on it than any other cryptocurrency. To date, some 231 million ETH-related videos have been watched, compared to 199m for Bitcoin. 

Backing from celebrity investors in 2020 also helped to propel Ethereum’s popularity as the crypto market exploded. 

A Short Price History

Ethereum has seen a fairly steady increase in price since its inception. The first major bull occurred in 2017, when prices of ETH went from $10 at the beginning of the year, to over $1000 by January 2018. This was, of course, due to the crypto bubble that hit the market then and prices inevitably dropped when the bubble burst, sinking to around $411. 

However, Ethereum held on to a fairly high price-per-token and when the market upswing hit at the end of 2020, ETH surged. Prices hit 1,385 in January and continued to soar, hitting an all-time high of $4,362 in May 2021. 

Expert Comment:

"I think the applications leveraging smart contracts and extensions on Ethereum will dwarf Bitcoin."

Mark Cuban, billionaire investor, entrepreneur and TV personality.

4. Ripple (XRP)

  • Market Cap: $46bn
  • Highest Price: $3.84
  • Current Price: $1.02

Background

Famously referred to as the ‘banker’s cryptocurrency’ Ripple Labs launched  XRP in 2012 to facilitate inter-currency transactions between banks and financial institutions. 

Ripple differs from many other cryptos in that it is owned and operated by a central organisation - which some have said goes against the ethos of blockchain technology. However, XRP was set up with a very specific purpose - to provide a more efficient, lower-cost alternative to the existing currency transfer system: SWIFT. 

What Makes Ripple so Popular?

Despite Ripple having a reasonably turbulent time recently - with an ongoing court case brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission - XRP seems to be going from strength to strength with its price movement. 

Despite potential regulatory issues, the project has support from several major financial institutions, including Santander and Fidor Bank and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Naturally, this bodes well for XRP as a cryptocurrency for international money transfers. 

A Short Price History

Ripple’s XRP has never had a high value-per-token, having reached its all-time high of $3.40 during the wider cryptocurrency bull market that peaked at the beginning of 2018. Inevitably, prices took a bit of a hit following the announcement of SEC court action, but XRP seems to have weathered the storm and has seen steady growth in 2021, rising from $0.25 in January to $1.81 in April. 

Expert Comment:

“XRP has a future in global business, just like Bitcoin and Ethereum. We can expect to see it become more and more mainstream as financial institutions and large organizations begin to purchase it,” 

Nishank Khanna, the chief financial officer of fintech lender Clarify Capital.

5. Dogecoin (DOGE)

  • Market Cap: $52bn
  • Highest Price: $0.7376
  • Current Price: $0.42

Background

Dogecoin was famously started in 2013 as something of a joke - a cryptocurrency to satirize other cryptocurrencies. However, the unlikely altcoin quickly gained a cult-like following and its community turned out to be one of the most committed and active support groups on the scene. Based largely on Litecoin’s architecture, Dogecoin has never claimed to be the next big cryptocurrency but has survived against the odds. 

What Makes Dogecoin so Popular?

Dogecoin’s popularity ultimately comes from its active community and high degree of social popularity. Group-led movements have seen prices surge on more than one occasion and, following a somewhat cryptic endorsement from Tesla’s Elon Musk combined with an influential Reddit campaign, Dogecoin has become one of the most talked about coins of 2021. 

A Short Price History

As is to be expected, Dogecoin was hardly in huge demand for much of its existence. In fact, the DOGE price charts are more or less flatlined until the start of 2021, when Dogecoin-mania struck. Prices went from $0.008 in January to $0.08 in February - hardly big numbers but marking an increase of 900%. Following a notorious Reddit campaign, prices surged again in May, peaking at DOGE’s all-time high of $0.7376.

Comment:

"SpaceX is going to put a literal Dogecoin on the literal moon."

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX

buy dogecoin

6. Tron (TRX)

  • Market Cap: $5bn
  • Highest Price: $0.30
  • Current Price: $0.077

Background

Tron is an interesting altcoin that was set up by a not-for-profit organisation in 2017, headed by the much-fabled Justin Sun. The goal was to provide a network where digital artists could share their content directly with their audience - removing the need for a fee-charging middleman, such as Netflix or Apple. 

What Makes TRON so Popular?

The idea for a decentralised platform for sharing digital content certainly has potential - especially since Tron acquired the BitTorrent network in 2018. What’s more, the emerging trend for non-fungible tokens has the potential to shake up the crypto market - Tron is perfectly placed for the development and distribution of NFTs

A Short Price History

Unlike many cryptocurrencies, Tron experienced a price surge early on, reaching a high of $0.30 in 2018 - just months after its launch. However, things have remained pretty subdued since then, with Tron trading at less than $0.01 for much of its existence. Things picked up in 2021 however, with TRX climbing steeply through March and April to reach of $0.16, before dipping slightly to its current price. 

Expert Comment:

“TRON has a great community of supporters and developers, where the founder himself is a great crypto enthusiast and believes in constant innovation. So, TRON might be one of the users’ favourite cryptocurrency in the long run”

CoinSwitch

7. Cardano (ADA)

  • Market Cap: $56B
  • Highest Price: $2.46
  • Current Price: $1.75

Background

Cardano was the world’s first peer-reviewed cryptocurrency developed in accordance with some of the world’s major research institutions. As such, much was expected of the new network when it was launched in 2017.

Often described as a 3rd generation cryptocurrency, Cardano has one of the most sophisticated infrastructures on the market - most notably its multilayer Ouroboros architecture which facilitates both token exchange and the development of smart contracts and Dapps and theoretically fixes issues with scalability and network slowdown that had dogged previous cryptocurrencies. 

What Makes Cardano so Popular?

Much of Cardano’s popularity is pegged on expectations that it will one day surpass Ethereum as the go-to smart network for developers. According to one of Cardano’s developers, Charles Hoskinson, there are around 100 companies already in the process of transitioning from Ethereum to Cardano - and many expect this trend to continue. 

A Short Price History

There was an initial wave of interest surrounding Cardano and its native token ADA had reached parity with the US dollar just months after its launch. However, Cardano didn’t experience the stratospheric growth expected by some and it wasn’t until January 2021 that things really picked up, with ADA rocketing from $0.30 to $0.95 in little over three weeks. The token rallied again in both April and May, reaching its all-time high of $2.46.

Expert Comment:

“Now Cardano has come of age by becoming fully decentralized – meaning its parent company has handed control of the blockchain over to the community – we can expect it to attract more investors which will, of course, drive its price on an upward trajectory.”

Nigel Green. deVere Group CEO and founder

8. Binance Coin (BNB)

  • Market Cap: $61bn
  • Highest Price: $690
  • Current Price: $403

Background

Binance Coin (BNB) is the native token of the Binance cryptocurrency exchange - the biggest crypto exchange in the world. Originally an Ethereum-based token, BNB migrated to its parent network when the Binance decentralised exchange went live in 2017. Binance Coin can be used to pay fees on the network, as well as a medium for exchange between other cryptocurrencies. 

What Makes Binance Coin so Popular?

Binance Coin has numerous uses, but being the token that fuels Binance DEX - which processes some 1.4m transactions per second - BNB is often in high demand as one of the top utility tokens. In fact, those paying Binance DEX fees with BNB are entitled to a discount, which means its popularity is more or less assured as long as Binance holds its position as a top exchange. 

A Short Price History

Binance Coin reached parity with the US dollar in its first few months of existence and experienced a surge in the opening months of 2018 that saw prices reach as high as $18.08. The next major upswing came in the summer of 2019, when BNB hit $37.09. However, it was in 2021 that Binance Coin really went stratospheric, as the market-wide bull saw BNB climb to an all-time high of $690.

Expert Comment:

“[The] purpose of BNB token has not changed… the more it is used (and the more use-cases), the higher the value”

Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance

9. Binance USD

  • Market Cap: $8bn
  • Highest Price: $1.11
  • Current Price: $1

Background

Another stablecoin, Binance US is tied to the US dollar and backed by Binance. As with Tether, BUSD holders can use the currency to facilitate transactions between digital and blockchain-based assets whilst hedging against volatility risks.

Importantly for the US market, BUSD is one of just three stablecoins thus far approved by US regulators. Of course, BinanceUS was initially used primarily on the Binance exchange, but recently it has gained popularity on other platforms. 

What Makes it so Popular?

BinanceUSD has already seen some pretty impressive uptake - which has no doubt been helped somewhat by the stablecoin being backed by the biggest cryptocurrency exchange on the planet. It might not be on the same level as Tether as of yet, but there is certainly an active community of BUSD supporters boosting the token’s trading volume. 

A Short Price History

As with Tether, BUSD is pegged to the US dollar and so it experiences very little price movement. The highest it has been is $1.11, whilst at its lowest ebb BUSD sunk to $0.88.

Expert Comment:

We are looking forward to seeing more utility through the power of stable digital assets and serving our part with BUSD, an NYDFS-approved USD-based stablecoin.

Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance

10. Litecoin (LTC)

  • Market Cap: $12bn
  • Highest Price: $412
  • Current Price: $185

Background

Lauded as the silver to Bitcoin’s gold, Litecoin was set up in 2011 by MIT graduate and former Google engineer Charlie Lee. The intention was to fix some of the issues identified with Bitcoin by using Scrypt as the algorithm for the proof-of-work consensus mechanism, as opposed to the slower but more secure SHA256 as used by BTC. 

LTC was intended as an everyday payments system for small to medium retail transactions - effectively operating ‘under’ Bitcoin. 

What Makes Litecoin so Popular?

Litecoin’s continued popularity is in some ways linked to its longevity. As one of the older coins on the market, it has an established position on the market with a loyal following. LTC benefitted hugely from the market upsurge that hit the crypto market in the first few months of 2021 and many advocates continue to see it as a new and improved version of Bitcoin. 

A Short Price History

It’s fair to say that Litecoin’s price movement was somewhat uninteresting for the first couple of years of its existence, but by 2013 Bitcoin had gained popularity and Litecoin was able to ride on its predecessor’s coat tails. LTC’s first price surge saw it reach around $38. However, this was short-lived and Litecoin dropped back below $3 over the remainder of the year and remained subdued. 

Litecoin was, however, one of the tokens that saw a huge uptick going into 2021, soaring from $68.57 to $311.55 between December 2020 and April 2021. LTC hit its all-time high of $412 in May.

Comment:

“Remember the plan for Litecoin. $1000 is imminent.”

Kaleo, prominent crypto analyst

What Cryptocurrencies Should I Buy in 2021?

As the list above should have revealed, there are various reasons as to why some cryptocurrencies experience high trading volumes. If you’re looking to actually invest, then the best cryptocurrency will be the one that best suits your individual investment goals.

For example, if you already have Bitcoin and Tether in your portfolio, then you might be prepared to take on slightly more risk and invest in one of the altcoins that still has plenty of room for growth, such as Cardano or Ripple.

Any entry on the cryptocurrency list above is potentially a good investment - each one has its own attributes and has stood the test of time, at least in the fast-moving world of cryptocurrency. Of course, choosing the next big cryptocurrency requires careful research and trading volume is just another metric you can use to inform your strategy. 

How to Start Investing in Cryptocurrency

If you’re looking to start investing in cryptocurrency, then the first thing you’ll need to do is find a reputable broker that will give you access to the markets. We recommend eToro, especially for new investors, as the platform offers a powerful yet innovative trading platform that’s easy to get to grips with.

Another advantage of eToro is that the platform has plenty of articles, how-tos and market reports to help you learn more about the best cryptocurrencies to invest in. 

Top 10 Most Popular Cryptocurrencies - Final Thoughts

Our list of the top ten most popular cryptocurrencies may have thrown up a few surprises, but it should be remembered that it represents just a snapshot of the market. There are different reasons why traders buy and sell cryptocurrencies and the most popular cryptocurrency is not necessarily the best cryptocurrency to invest in. 

However, one thing 2021 has taught us is that popularity can have substantial effects on prices - particularly if that popularity catches on amongst institutional investors. As with everything crypto-related, any potential investments are advised to keep a close eye on the market and research their portfolio additions carefully. 

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Most Popular Cryptocurrencies FAQ

What is the fastest-growing cryptocurrency?

Most of the fastest-growing cryptocurrencies are those that are part of smart networks. The cryptocurrency market changes quickly, but Cardano is one altcoin that is tipped to grow significantly in the near future and is gathering more and more support amongst crypto experts and big business.

Which Altcoin will explode in 2021?

As the top cryptocurrencies continue to surge to record highs, many investors are looking to the lesser-known altcoins to see where the biggest investment opportunity may lie. Coins such as Tron, IOTA and Cardano have huge amounts of potential, provided they are able to deliver on their original mission statements. 

Which coin can beat Bitcoin?

Talk of which token can beat Bitcoin is almost as old as the crypto market itself. However, investors should remember that its growth that matters. Whilst Bitcoin holds the top spot - by a considerable margin - there are other coins that have much more room for price growth. 

Is Bitcoin a bubble 2021?

Bitcoin’s meteoric price rise in the opening months of 2021 has inevitably led to speculation that we could be seeing another bubble, as with 2017. However, there is much more support for Bitcoin from the mainstream business world and with platforms like PayPal now supporting crypto payments, many top analysts believe BTC could actually continue to grow in 2021. 

What is the most widely used cryptocurrency?

Despite Bitcoin being the most famous of cryptocurrencies, it was actually Tether that was the most popular token by trading volume when we conducted our research. 

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