With recent heady cryptocurrency valuations, I'm getting emails and such asking "what's the next Bitcoin? Is it too late to be in Ether?" Although I can't give financial advice and won't here, I will give you my personal opinions as someone who has reported on the space for a few years now - both the ups and downs.
We clearly seem to be in a crypto bull run right now. As I write this post, Ether - the crypto token of the Ethereum platform - is up 23% just over the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, Bitcoin - the first and most well-known cryptocurrency asset - has had 24 hour trading volume of a stunning US $1,163,480,000 around the world. (Get your first batch of Bitcoin safely here.)
Bitcoin may be more rare than some crypto speculators are factoring in at the moment. There are 16,344,000 BTC in circulation worldwide now, with an eventual programmed supply cap of 21,000,000 BTC being reached sometime in the next century.
Bitcoin launched to the world in January 2009, and during its first couple years, a large percentage of bitcoins may have been lost permanently: as bitcoins weren't at first worth very much, and were the domain of fringe communities in some cases, users threw out old hard drives with coins still on them - and years later rued the day they did so!
Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto seemingly has not moved any of his coins since he went publicly silent about seven years ago. Some have speculated Satoshi is dead, and therefore can never spend or sell his coins into the marketplace. Others suggest Satoshi is still alive and well, but burned his private keys (thus, forever making inaccessible) the coins he mined early on, when the world still considered Bitcoin an unusual and experimental technology.
Yet another theory is that Satoshi is playing "4d chess" with us all, and plans to dump some of his kingly cryptographic hoard only when the value of the Bitcoin network reaches astronomical levels - of US $1 trillion or more, which would render Satoshi one of the world's wealthiest people.
Whatever the case, I consider it valid to believe of the 16.3M outstanding bitcoin supply, a sizable portion may indeed never hit an exchange or marketplace again. Bitcoin is eight years old, whereas many of the newer blockchain currency projects are months or years old, with less disparate and more concentrated ownership bases in many cases.
Until recently, the cryptocurrency marketplace as a whole had a "Bitcoin Dominance" (as crypto experts call it) that hovered between 79% to 83% most of the time - which is to say, Bitcoin currency accounted for between 79% to 83% of the total market valuation of all crypto assets in existence.
Lately, however, with the meteoric rise of Ether in value on a variety of good news items... as well as the meteoric rise of Litecoin on Coinbase.com inclusion... the Bitcoin Dominance index has dipped to an anemic 45% - meaning that original cryptocurrency Bitcoin collectively now accounts for only 45% of the total crypto market valuation.
Some in the marketplace believe that a "snap back" closer to recent mean index values is possible, as holders of more "speculative" and newer crypto assets look to lock in their gains in something more "safe" - which, aside from fiat, would appear to be Bitcoin itself. No cryptocurrency comes close to it in terms of length of operational history; Litecoin came out two years later.
Just as airlines and airline regulators and airplane makers for decades have favored "tried and true" jet aircraft designs over newer, more speculative, more efficient designs for reasons of safety, some believe it is possible financial institutions and individuals will eventually derive the most perceived value from the oldest cryptocurrencies.
In other words, they might go with Bitcoin - because it's old, supply capped, well traded, and only allows Bitcoin users to do a narrow range of activities... whereas newer crypto assets allow for greater complexity, but at a presumed security cost.
Watch our video below demonstrating the popular Bitpay app, found in the iPhone App Store.