The fundamental to cryptocurrency is understanding their different types. This article will help you understand the characteristics of the coin in search and its use cases. To help you gain insights about different types of cryptocurrencies, this article dives into the various categories that have emerged since the inception of Bitcoin. 

From the pioneering Bitcoin and Altcoins to innovative DeFi tokens and NFTs, we explore the unique features, primary uses, and key distinctions among these digital assets. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or new to the crypto space, this guide offers a comprehensive overview to navigate the complex landscape of cryptocurrencies.

A brief overview of the article in a tabular format.

TypeCryptocurrencyLaunch YearKey FeaturesPrimary Use
BitcoinBitcoin (BTC)2009First decentralized cryptocurrency, limited supply of 21 millionDigital gold, store of value
AltcoinsEthereum (ETH)2015Smart contract functionality, foundation for dAppsPlatform for decentralized applications
Litecoin (LTC)2011Faster transaction times than BitcoinPayment, faster transactions
Ripple (XRP)2012Real-time cross-border payment systemPayment, especially cross-border transactions
TokensChainlink (LINK)2017Decentralized oracle network, connects smart contracts with real-world dataData feed for smart contracts
Uniswap (UNI)2020Governance token for Uniswap, a decentralized exchangeGovernance, liquidity provision
StablecoinsTether (USDT)2014Pegged 1:1 to the US dollar, minimal volatilityStable digital dollar, trading
USD Coin (USDC)2018Fully backed by US dollars, regulatedStable digital dollar, payments
Privacy CoinsMonero (XMR)2014Enhanced privacy and anonymity featuresPrivate transactions
Zcash (ZEC)2016Zero-knowledge proofs to ensure transaction privacyPrivate transactions
DeFi TokensMaker (MKR)2017Governance token of the MakerDAO and DAI stablecoin systemGovernance, stability
Aave (AAVE)2020Lending and borrowing on a decentralized platformLending, borrowing
NFTsCryptoPunks2017Among the first non-fungible tokens on Ethereum, limited to 10,000 unique itemsDigital collectibles, art
There are different categories of cryptocurrencies

Introduction to Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies secured by cryptography, making them nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Unlike traditional currencies, they operate on decentralized networks based on blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. The genesis of cryptocurrencies can be traced back to the creation of Bitcoin in 2009 by an anonymous entity or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin’s emergence marked the beginning of a new era in digital finance, paving the way for the development of thousands of alternative cryptocurrencies, each with unique features and purposes.

Purpose of different types of cryptocurrencies 

Cryptocurrencies might seem similar at first glance, but they actually serve a variety of purposes and operate differently. Here’s why there are different types:

Different Uses

Some cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, are primarily used as digital money. Others, like Ethereum, are used to create and run smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps).


Each cryptocurrency can use different underlying technologies and blockchain protocols. This affects their speed, security, and scalability.

Community and Philosophy

Different groups might have unique philosophies or goals for their cryptocurrency, influencing its design and features.


New cryptocurrencies often aim to improve on earlier ones, offering better privacy, more efficiency, or other benefits.

Market Demand 

As the crypto market expands, there’s demand for coins that serve niche purposes or cater to specific industries, leading to the creation of more specialized cryptocurrencies.

So, while cryptocurrencies share the basic principle of using blockchain technology for secure, decentralized transactions, their differences lie in the specifics of their use cases, technologies, and communities.

Now, let’s understand different types of cryptocurrencies.

Main Types of Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin (BTC)

Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, was introduced in 2009. It’s often called digital gold, reflecting its limited supply and potential as a long-term store of value. Bitcoin uses a proof-of-work mechanism to facilitate and verify transactions, which has become a standard for securing cryptocurrency networks.


The term “altcoin” refers to cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin. These vary greatly in their purposes and functions. Ethereum, for example, introduced smart contracts, which automate transactions when certain conditions are met. Litecoin offers faster transaction times compared to Bitcoin, making it more suitable for daily transactions. Ripple (XRP) focuses on facilitating real-time cross-border payment systems for banks and financial institutions.


Unlike coins, which operate on their own blockchains, tokens are built on existing blockchain platforms. They can represent various assets or rights, managed by smart contracts. Utility tokens provide access to services within a network (e.g., Ethereum’s Ether), security tokens are digital representations of traditional securities, and governance tokens give holders voting rights in decentralized organizations.

Specialized Cryptocurrencies


Stablecoins aim to mitigate volatility by pegging their value to more stable assets, such as fiat currencies (e.g., US dollars) or commodities (e.g., gold). Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC) are popular examples, offering the benefits of cryptocurrencies without the typical price fluctuations.

Examples of stablecoins include:

Tether (USDT)

Pegged to the US dollar, Tether is one of the most widely used stablecoins, aiming to maintain a 1:1 value ratio with the USD.

USD Coin (USDC) 

Similar to USDT, USD Coin is backed by US dollars held in reserve and aims for a 1:1 value ratio with the USD.

Binance USD (BUSD) 

A stablecoin issued by Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, pegged to the US dollar.

Dai (DAI)

 A decentralized stablecoin that runs on the Ethereum blockchain and aims to keep its value as close as possible to one US dollar. DAI is unique because it’s backed by collateral on the Maker platform.

Paxos Standard (PAX)

A digital dollar that combines the stability of the dollar with the efficiency of blockchain technology, offering instant transactions and borderless transfer-of-funds.

Privacy Coins

Privacy coins like Monero and Zcash enhance user privacy by obscuring transaction details, making transactions untraceable. They address the concern of public transaction histories inherent to many cryptocurrencies, providing users with greater anonymity.

Examples of privacy coins, which are designed to provide more anonymity for their users, include:

Monero (XMR)

Known for its strong privacy features, Monero transactions hide the sender, receiver, and amount using advanced cryptography.

Zcash (ZEC)

Offers the option to “shield” transactions, providing privacy to users by hiding the sender, receiver, and transaction amount.

Dash (DASH)
Initially focused on privacy, Dash offers a feature called PrivateSend, which mixes transactions to obscure their origin.

Verge (XVG)

Uses multiple anonymity-centric networks such as Tor and I2P to hide users’ IP addresses, aiming to improve privacy.

Horizen (ZEN)
Offers enhanced privacy features through zk-SNARKs transactions, allowing users to send funds privately.

DeFi Tokens

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) represents a shift towards transparent, open-access financial systems, eliminating traditional intermediaries like banks. DeFi tokens support services such as decentralized lending, borrowing, and earning interest directly on the blockchain.

Examples of DeFi (Decentralized Finance) tokens include:

Uniswap (UNI)

A token for Uniswap, a decentralized exchange that allows for the trading of hundreds of different tokens directly on the Ethereum blockchain.

Chainlink (LINK)

A token used within the Chainlink decentralized oracle network, which provides reliable, tamper-proof inputs and outputs for complex smart contracts on any blockchain.

Aave (AAVE)

A token associated with Aave, a decentralized lending and borrowing platform on Ethereum, allowing users to lend, borrow, and earn interest on crypto assets.

Compound (COMP)

A governance token for the Compound protocol, a decentralized service on Ethereum for borrowing and lending where users earn interest on their deposits.

Maker (MKR)
A governance token for the MakerDAO and Maker Protocol, which manages and backs the DAI stablecoin, allowing users to lend and borrow.

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

NFTs are unique digital tokens that signify ownership of specific digital items or assets, such as artworks, collectibles, and even tweets. Unlike cryptocurrencies, which are interchangeable, each NFT has a unique value and cannot be exchanged on a one-to-one basis.

Investing in Cryptocurrencies

Investing in cryptocurrencies requires understanding market volatility and the technology underlying each cryptocurrency. Potential investors should research to grasp how different cryptocurrencies work, their market position, and the problems they aim to solve.

However, if you find crypto overwhelming and time consuming for research, head to Mudrex’s ‘Coin Sets’ where crypto experts curate baskets of well researched cryptocurrencies for optimal returns. Investing in ‘Coin Sets’ can be for anybody who understands very little about crypto but wants to cash in the profits of the bull run.

If you want to invest in individual crypto tokens, head to the Mudrex App and explore from a wide range of 350+ registered tokens. 


Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology offer a new paradigm for digital transactions and finance, challenging traditional financial and regulatory frameworks. Understanding this rapidly evolving landscape is essential for anyone looking to participate in the digital economy, whether as an investor, consumer, or innovator. Staying informed about technological advancements and regulatory changes will be key to navigating the future of cryptocurrencies.

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