How Many Cryptocurrencies Are There? 
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As of March 2023, there are thousands of cryptocurrencies in circulation. Hardly any other sector has experienced growth as impressive as cryptocurrencies and DeFi.
These virtual currencies and digital tokens seem to have come out of nowhere and taken over the Fintech world by storm. Although mainstream adoption is still not in sight, if we look at the complete picture, the future for crypto is promising.
The industry that only began in 2009, when the first Bitcoin block was mined, is now considered one of the hottest investment sectors with over 20,000 crypto tokens. With so many platforms and projects functioning simultaneously, it can very easily become overwhelming for newcomers as well as some experienced investors to make sense of everything that’s going on.
To answer your questions, this article will dig deep into different topics, including the number of cryptocurrencies, their types, and a brief history of the growth and expansion of the crypto industry.
Total Number of Cryptocurrencies in 2023
Since their launch more than a decade ago, cryptocurrencies have attracted a lot of attention due to their decentralized nature. They require no central or third-party intervention like banks to function, allowing people to process transactions independently and seamlessly at a very cheap cost. On top of that, the unbreachable and scalable nature of blockchains made the technology popular among not only investors but businesses and institutions as well.
After years of continuous progress and development, the cryptocurrency industry is flooded with a range of blockchains and tokens, with new projects emerging almost every day. Each of these projects aims to solve different problems and overcome new challenges and barriers. Many even try to tackle the same issue simultaneously, but each with its own unique approach.
As of 2023, the total number of blockchain projects is somewhere around 1,000, with an even larger number of side chains running on top of these primary chains. As far as cryptocurrencies are concerned, quoting the exact number of projects currently functioning in the market will be an impossible task.
However, after reviewing several reports and statistics, we can safely say that the total number of cryptocurrencies in 2023 is over 22,000. Nonetheless, it must be noted that not all these projects are reliable or even successful. Experts believe that almost 90% of the current cryptocurrency projects will not survive the year and will soon die due to liquidity issues and volume crises. Only projects with strong fundamentals and continuous development will continue to thrive, expand, and sustain beyond 2023.
Interestingly, only the top 20 cryptocurrencies account for as much as 90% of the total $1 trillion market cap of the industry. Moreover, Bitcoin alone accounts for more than 50% of the money circulating in the market, with its staggering $540 billion market cap, which is more than double that of Ethereum ($218 billion) – the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap.
Growth and Expansion in the Crypto Space through the Years
As mentioned already, the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry originated with the release of Bitcoin in 2009. The blockchain was launched by a pseudonymous computer engineer (or group) named Satoshi Nakamoto. Despite being a revolutionary technology that offered a better alternative to our traditional financial system, Bitcoin struggled in the early years and only gained popularity much later.
By 2013, new cryptocurrencies, such as Litecoin, Namecoin, Peercoin, XRP, and Dogecoin began entering the market, raising the status of the nascent crypto space from just one project to that of a small industry.
Moreover, with Bitcoin’s price and popularity gradually increasing, it managed to form a small but growing community around it. Two years later, the number of cryptocurrencies operating in the industry skyrocketed to 564 by the end of 2015.
Furthermore, it was the year when Ethereum was introduced to the crypto market, and smart contract crypto projects started attracting more attention.
With Bitcoin’s price surging 3x to reach the $900 mark and Ethereum becoming the second-largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $638 million, 2016 proved to be a significant year for the entire blockchain industry. Moreover, other altcoins, including Monero (28x) and Dash (4.5x), also experienced impressive price rallies.
The entire cryptocurrency industry saw a boost in the next few years and began to attract much public interest. The Bitcoin price soared a whopping 2,200% to reach the $19,100 mark, and Ethereum followed with its astonishing 19,000% price increase. 2017 was also the year of the introduction of some new cryptocurrencies, such as Cardano and Polygon, introducing yet more innovative technology to the space.
By the end of 2019, about 6,000 cryptocurrency tokens were circulating in the market, with new projects launching every week. Bitcoin surpassed the $100 billion market cap, and nine other cryptocurrencies had a market cap of over $1 billion. However, this momentum could not be sustained the following year. Like the rest of the financial sector, cryptocurrencies suffered major setbacks in 2020 with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yet, despite the widespread economic depression, the crypto sector ended 2020 strong, with almost $1 trillion in total market cap. Bitcoin and Ethereum surged to $488 billion and $77 billion market cap, respectively. Moreover, the number of cryptocurrencies with a market cap of over $1 billion increased to 28.
On November 10th, 2021, Bitcoin reached its all-time high of $69,000, with the entire cryptocurrency market touching the $3 trillion market cap mark. Since then, the market has been in a long-term downward trend due to various reasons, including geopolitical matters, surging interest rates, and the crypto bear market trend. As a result, the number of cryptocurrencies in circulation has reduced, but it remains above 22,000.
Why Are There So Many Cryptocurrencies?
As we mentioned before, cryptocurrencies have multiplied over the years. Despite the ongoing bear market phase and comparatively low trading volumes, the crypto market continues to attract developers and entrepreneurs who are releasing several dozen projects every month.
The ease and simplicity of creating cryptocurrencies are the biggest reason so many crypto projects are emerging with such frequency. Anyone with a few dollars and basic-level knowledge about programming on the blockchain can go and create their own crypto token. Even those with little or no programming skills can easily hire a freelance developer online to create a cryptocurrency project for them.
Moreover, contrary to popular belief, starting your own cryptocurrency token does not necessitate the development of a separate blockchain first. You can simply build your token on top of the existing blockchain platforms, such as Ethereum, Cardano, Polkadot, etc.
In addition to the low cost and simple process, many people enter the market in the hopes of making a quick profit. As a result, a significant number of cryptocurrencies in the market lack solid fundamentals and do not really offer any real utility. Meme coins, like Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, and FLOKI, are good examples of such types of cryptocurrencies.
Different Types of Cryptocurrencies
The majority of cryptocurrencies today fall into one of these six categories: payment tokens, altcoins, utility tokens, stablecoins, governance tokens, and last but not the least, meme coins.
As the name suggests, these tokens are primarily used to process decentralized peer-to-peer transactions and make or receive payments. Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Litecoin are some of the most common cryptocurrencies used for this purpose.
The term “altcoin” emerged with the release of some early cryptocurrencies created with the objective of replacing Bitcoin with a better and more efficient mechanism. However, over the years, altcoins have evolved considerably and are now referred to as any cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin. As of 2023, the biggest altcoin is Ethereum, and other popular altcoins include Cardano, Polygon, XRP, Polkadot, and Solana.
Utility tokens provide some sort of service or benefit to their holders within the smart contract blockchain ecosystem they are built on. The utility may be voting rights, exclusive access, crypto exchange perks, or more. For example, SAND is a utility token in The Sandbox metaverse used for transactions and interactions.
Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies whose price is pegged to a real-world asset, commodity, or fiat currency. As a result, these coins are less volatile, and their price always remains equivalent to that of the asset/fiat they are pegged to. USDT, BUSD, DAI, and USDC are all stablecoins with their price pegged to the US Dollar.
Governance tokens allow token holders to have a say in the administrative matters of the project. Many DeFi programs use governance tokens to create a decentralized environment, enabling their users to participate in the project’s future. For instance, UNI is the governance token of the Uniswap DAO, allowing token holders to share the responsibility over the DEX’s governance, community treasury, and the Uniwap Default list.
Meme coins are cryptocurrencies that started as a joke with no real purpose. The primary factors driving their price are social media memes and trends. The first meme coin is Dogecoin, and several hundred other meme cryptocurrencies have been launched since its release.
With so many cryptocurrencies at your disposal today, it’s important to remember that not every crypto project ensures a promising future and positive price action over the long run.
Additionally, with the rate at which the cryptocurrency industry is expanding, we are going to see a huge increase in the number of new crypto tokens and coins being launched in the coming years. However, experts recommend only sticking with projects with strong development and good fundamentals.
The editorial content of OriginStamp AG does not constitute a recommendation for investment or purchase advice. In principle, an investment can also lead to a total loss. Therefore, please seek advice before making an investment decision.