In the world of digital currencies, Bitcoin (BTC) paved the way. The original cryptocurrency has continued to dominate the field, with prices reaching up to $3000 or so per coin at its peak. And yet, Bitcoin is no longer as dominant over the rest of the field as it once was: while Bitcoin used to enjoy a share of the total industry market capitalization around 80-90%, it now represents less than half of the total market cap. Other currencies are racing to catch up with Bitcoin, with Ethereum's Ether token appearing to be the most likely to overtake Bitcoin in terms of market cap. And yet, regardless of whether Bitcoin remains on top or if another digital currency surpasses it, Bitcoin's influence on the industry, and on the world at large, cannot be overstated. The cryptocurrency world is continuing to grow: where will it end up?

800 Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin's success has spawned over 800 other cryptocurrencies in the past decade. Now, the market for Bitcoins is worth about $40 billion, but the total value of the rest of those currencies is worth even more than that, whent hey are taken together. The next biggest players are Ethereum, occupying about $25.7 billion worth of the total market value share, and Ripple, with about $10.5 billion. Litecoin, Dash, NEM, and many others follow after that. The total value of the industry is hovering just under $100 billion at this point, which is roughly equivalent to the combined values of Weyerhaeuser (WY), Ford (F), and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), three of the largest corporations in the United States, according to Business Insider.

Bitcoin's Shifting Role

One of the reasons that analysts see the cryptocurrency world continuing to grow into the future is Bitcoin's shifting role. For the first time since its founding more than a decade ago, Bitcoin now makes up a minority of the entire cryptocurrency market. For many years the original cryptocurrency completely dominated its competition, but in the past six months or so, Bitcoin has dropped to just 41.6% of the total market. Litecoin, which aims to process blocks at four times the speed of Bitcoin, has been in existence since 2011. Ethereum, launched only in 2015, has ascended through the ranks of digital currencies at lightning speed. And Ripple has made impressive gains thanks to its unique software, which has already been adopted by some of the largest banks in the world in order to increase global liquidity.

At this point, it seems likely that the cryptocurrency world will continue to expand, with more currencies, more customers, more miners, and new technology. Of course, there are also those who speculate that the rapid growth is a result of a bubble, but only time will tell if the digital currency world will come crashing down.

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