Top 20 Crypto-Assets by Market Cap | Part 2

(Market Capitalization as of December 11, 2020)

Alpha Trades
Dec 21, 2020 · 7 min read

Note: I adapted this work from the Uncommon Core podcast, hosted by Su Zhu, the CEO and founder of Three Arrows Capital, and Hasu, a crypto researcher and writer.

Head over to CoinMarketCap for the best overview of the global crypto market cap. They don’t have everything, so if you can’t find what you need, check BeInCrypto.com or Coingecko.com.

Crypto can change hands fast, and by the time I wholly publish this series, the leaderboards will have already shifted. I’ll cover the same 20 projects mentioned by Su and Hasu in their podcast, and we can start a conversation from there.

Part 1 covered $CDAI, $XTZ, $XEM, $TRON, $WBTC, $XMR, and $EOS.

In this current issue (Part 2), I’ll cover $USDC, $BSV, $XLM, $BNB, $DOT, $ADA, and $LINK.

Notes for Discussion:

  • Wherever you find a flag 🏳️ is a hot topic for debate. There are many areas in this article where I was out of my league, so I invite you to help me clear up confusion or bias.

USD Coin (USDC)

Market Cap: $3.36 billion

Company one-liner:

“The world’s leading digital dollar stablecoin.”

USDC is a thoroughly regulated stablecoin compared to Tether, and it has 1:1 proof of reserves in USD.

USDC maintains a strong presence on Binance and receives support from three of the most respected names in the crypto space: Circle (and The Centre Consortium), Coinbase, and Bitcoin mining company Bitmain.

USDC is blossoming thanks to OTC and DeFi

USDC is a massive beneficiary of not only DeFi but also OTC trading, as Circle unpacked in this document. Because USDC is instantly convertible to bank cash without a fee, it’s more comfortable and affordable to pay via the USDC stablecoin than a traditional bank transfer. Tether has slightly higher fees for converting Tether to USD in bank transfers.

Tri-pool, one of Curve’s newest pools, includes USDC among DAI and USDT. USDC is a critical on-ramp into DeFi. DAI & Maker allow you to mind DAI through USDC to keep their stablecoin peg closer to $1 while also improving liquidity.

USDC has found support from reputable companies since its inception. As it expands through its strong network effect, USDC may ultimately become the official CBDC of the United States via a public-private partnership.

Only time will tell. Tether’s far ahead of the pack, but it’s got competition in USDC.

Stablecoin Market Capitalization, Source: CoinGecko

Bitcoin SV (BSV)

Market Cap: $3.49 billion

Company One-liner:

“Bitcoin SV is intended to provide a clear choice for miners and allow businesses to build applications and websites on it reliably.”

BSV (the ‘SV’ standing for ‘Satoshi Vision’) is a fork of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), hatched in late 2018, and even “flippened” BCH for a moment. BSV has been mired with drama from the beginning, in no small part thanks to its association with controversial figure Craig Wright.

The BSV community often refers to BSV’s massive daily transaction throughput as the main reason their project is the ‘real’ Bitcoin. However, considering the project’s trouble with large exchanges, people like Moe Adham, CEO of Bitaccess, are suspicious that most of BSV’s transaction volume is “spam.”

How would large amounts of spam affect the accurate total circulating supply of BSV? And what’s this company’s end-game, anyway? 🏳️ Currently, BSV is forming partnerships in the esports industry in what sounds like an NFT-related project.

Stellar Lumens (XLM)

Market Cap: $3.9 billion

Network’s One-liner:

“Stellar makes it possible to create, send, and trade digital representations of all forms of money.”

XLM is a fork of Ripple (XRP), supported by the Stellar Development Foundation. Stellar’s massive BTC airdrop in early 2017 helped build some initial backing for the project. Stellar Lumens can distribute large amounts of its supply to crucial partners in return for the partners’ backing and public support. It’s a good strategy.

XLM stirred some controversy over its decision to burn about half of its supply. Burns can be bullish since the supply decreases, and scarcity increases. Still, it can also be bearish because it implies the network hasn’t found any use case to justify the sizeable existing supply. To many, burning is just a stunt to get the token price higher.

Binance Coin (BNB)

Market Cap: $5.19 billion

Company One-liner:

BNB is an exchange-traded token on Binance Chain and primarily trades on, you guessed it, Binance.

Binance Coin has an obscene amount of trading volume ($306.6 billion in spot volume for Q3). Competitors with exchange-traded tokens haven’t seen the same runaway success. The OKEx exchange and their native token deflated in November, after a 5-week withdrawal suspension. Meanwhile, HUOBI denies reports that one of its executives would serve a prison sentence.

Binance has negotiated good terms in several partnerships and serves as a launchpad for multiple promising crypto projects. Binance lives by a client-comes-first philosophy. Other exchanges like FTX appear to have taken pointers from Binance’s decision to make upper management more approachable.

We shouldn’t underestimate Binance: They introduced one of the first successful exchange tokens. Along with the DeFi-friendly Binance Smart Chain, BNB’s staking perks keep some of the initial buyers around for the long game. Binance has made a strong case for how to accrue value with an exchange token. Binance Coin arguably behaves like equity in the company, and other players in the space will not ignore that.

[ @zhusu and @hasufl discussed some potential cons to Binance’s Pioneer Burn Program in the podcast linked earlier. The concept went a bit over my head, so I’d enjoy hearing what more they can add to the topic.🏳️ ]

Polkadot (DOT)

Market Cap: $4.89 billion

Company One-liner:

“Polkadot development is on track to deliver the most robust platform for security, scalability, and innovation.”

Polkadot is an open-source project backed by the Web3 Foundation and Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood.

Gavin’s also the founder of Parity Technologies and brings to the table years of experience from building the ETH community. Gavin knows how to bootstrap developer interest and adoption. The author of this article holds a bit of DOT and forgives Gavin for drinking whiskey during professional interviews.

DOT has a robust following in Asia, supported by a healthy grassroots community. Many DeFi applications will plant a DOT flag over the next few months (more on this).

Polkadot’s edge mainly comes down to the fact that ETH architecture may ultimately not be the best way for application-specific projects to succeed.

Another critical difference between the project and Ethereum is its on-chain governance vs. Ethereum’s rough consensus.

ETH’s DAO hack (which led to the fork of Ethereum Classic) and the Parity multi-sig wallet freeze reveal how rough consensus can create problems. Polkadot’s parachain approach provides full autonomy to application developers and the networks they engender. Deploy whatever you want, with sovereignty, without fear of a hard fork that makes it not unworkable.

[I’m again reaching out to @zhusu and @hasufl to discuss a section of the podcast where they suggested that Ethereum’s Constantinople hard fork caused trouble for some projects that build on top of Ethereum’s blockchain. ]

Polkadot aims to be synergistic with Ethereum, where applications can be on both platforms and ultimately decide where they live the best.

A similar project to Polkadot is Cosmos, which operates a more straightforward protocol focused on asset transfers between chains. The discussion’s out-of-scope for this article, but here you can read more on the differences and similarities.

You may also want to look into Kusama (KSM), Polkadot’s “wild cousin.”

Cardano (ADA)

Market Cap: $5.08 billion

A one-liner from CoinMarketCap:

“allow ‘changemakers, innovators and visionaries’ to bring about positive global change.”

Cardano is yet another PoS blockchain platform that’s been around for a few years. The token price is down about 85% from ATH. Undeterred by price action, the Cardano community defends the project for its association with academics, scientists, and peer-reviewed studies.

Chainlink (LINK)

Market Cap: $5.21 billion

Company One-liner:

“Chainlink’s decentralized oracle network provides reliable, tamper-proof inputs and outputs for complex smart contracts on any blockchain.”

LINK is on my success list for this decade. It’s packing some of the best memes, next to Bitcoin. Yes, ETH tries hard, but their meme game remains weak compared to the Link Marines.

But there’s more to the world’s top oracle network than memes. Chainlink runs on the Ethereum blockchain, and it brings real-world data onto the chain. It’s a thesis of a topic, but in a nutshell, LINK makes smart contracts better.

LINK could benefit enormously from the Internet of Things (IoT) in the coming years. The protocol has some notable participants, including Aave, Synthetix, Yearn.Finance and Google.

Next Time, We’ll Cover the Top Six on the List

The holidays may slow down my output, but Part Three of the Top 20 Crypto-Assets by Market Cap series will be here within a couple of weeks.

As of December 11, the Top Six included $BTC, $ETH, $XRP, $USDT, $LTC, and $BCH.

Happy holidays, I hope you learned something cool. Let’s keep the discussion going in the Discord.

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