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10 Altcoins and Tokens To Keep an Eye on in January 2018

10 Altcoins and Tokens To Keep an Eye on

2018 will be the year of the altcoin. In 2017, we saw Ripple skyrocket from a market cap just north of $200 million USD in January, to nearly $90 billion by Christmas, and a realized total cryptocurrency market cap of nearly $700 billion. If 2017 is any indication, the crypto market isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

But, with over 1300 cryptocurrencies listed on CoinMarketCap, and almost 700 deceased coins and abandoned projects, it can be an arduous and overwhelming process sorting through the good and the bad. We’ve gone through them and compiled a list of our favorite projects that have a strong backing team, support clear and transparent roadmaps, and strive to fill a needed gap in today’s socio-economic, and blockchain, climate.

Below is a list of 10 altcoins and tokens that are set to make waves in Q1 of 2018, and should definitely be on your radar.

1. ICON ($ICX)

ICON ($ICX)

What is ICON?

Often referred to as “Korea’s Ethereum,” ICON is so much more, striving to build one of the largest decentralized networks and hyperledgers in order to “hyperconnect the world.” Like Ethereum, ICON supports decentralized applications, including Blockchain ID and payment and exchange. However, where ICON differs is in their built in decentralized exchange (DEX), real-time transactions, and interoperability with other blockchains, providing a single platform for communities of different governance structures (financial, security, insurance, educational, healthcare) to connect and transact.

Why you should keep an eye on it

After a successfully deployed Testnet in 2017, ICON’s Mainnet launch (a live, working product) is fast approaching, and slated to launch January 24th, 2018. Their partnerships already include several top-tier Korean universities, Ripple Asia, the Korea Financial Investment Association, and several other government-backed agencies, and all of their Blockchain consortiums are already supporting live market-ready services and pilot programs, reducing Mainnet uncertainty and speculation.
For Koreans, ICON stands to be the first of its kind to connect their entire country, as Korea has been a driving force behind the crypto-boom since its inception, pushing an estimated 35-40% of Ethereum’s global trade. Up until now, Korea has been without a platform to call their own, and accompanied with fervent Korean nationalism, ICON has the potential to cause global waves with its Mainnet release at the end of the month.

2. Dragonchain ($DRGN)

Dragonchain ($DRGN)

What is Dragonchain?

Although developed in 2015 as Disney’s attempt at creating their own private blockchain platform, Disney abandoned the project not long after and released it as open source software, part of their Open Source Program. Dragonchain was taken over by the Non-Profit organization Dragonchain Foundation, who has since built and cultivated a scalable, server-less, platform for businesses to protect data, create and leverage a pre-built library smart contract ecosystem of general purpose languages (Java, Python, C#, Node.js), and provide project incubation for future tokenization ecosystems.

Why you should keep an eye on it

Dragonchain has already had a Cinderella run since its ICO close back in 2017, surging nearly 64x and passing the market cap billion mark. However, it’s not finished just yet. In Q1 of 2018, Dragonchain is set to roll out smart contract protocols and APIs, launch a third incubator project ICO pre-sale for companies, and a commercial serverless platform, all well-timed with an upsurge of cloud computing and blockchain solutions looking to move beyond the proof-of-concept stage.

3. OmiseGO ($OMG)

OmiseGO ($OMG)

What is OmiseGO?

Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood supported, and sporting the slogan “unbank the banked,” OmiseGO is Thai-based Omise’s blockchain project and an Ethereum-rooted financial technology allowing “real-time, peer-to-peer value exchange and payment services.” Simply put, OmiseGO is set to disrupt traditional financial institutions by providing an all-in-one, agnostic, financial clearinghouse for peer-to-peer exchange across jurisdictions, organizations, fiat money, and decentralized currencies.

Why you should keep an eye on it

OmiseGO seeks to revolutionize our financial ecosystem as we know it, establishing a borderless, singular global currency, connecting the world at the drop of a dime. Their 2018 roadmap includes the continued growth of strategic partnerships (not already including McDonald’s, Bose, Allianz, and Thai Airways), wallet release, and an up and running proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism.

On December 30th, 2017 OmiseGO founder Jun Hasegawa tweeted, “My first milestone for Q1 2018 will be secure [sic] enough transactions for #OMG network validators (OMG token holders) for participate [sic] OMG PoS,” linking to their blog’s December, 6th article on network staking returns.

4. Kucoin Exchange/Kucoin Shares ($KCS)

Kucoin Exchange/Kucoin Shares

What are Kucoin Shares?

Founded in 2011, it wasn’t until early 2017 that this Hong Kong-based digital exchange came into the crypto forefront, quickly becoming one of Asia’s highest trafficked exchanges. Distinguishing itself from the likes of Poloniex, Kraken, and Bittrex, Kucoin touts itself as “the people’s exchange,” implementing a daily incentive bonus for users holding Kucoin Shares $KCS), the exchange’s token, equal to 50% of the total daily trading fees.

Why you should keep an eye on it

While other exchanges are closing new registrations, Kucoin’s doors remain open, welcoming over 30,000 new users at the start of January, and boasting a trading volume of over $135 million USD.

With increasing volume and reputability amongst exchanges, Kucoin’s token, KCS, is an attractive option for investors looking to diversify their portfolio, due to daily payouts in the form of whichever coin or token was traded that day. As a liquidity attraction tool, KCS incentivizes increased volume and liquidity, resulting in increased payouts for KCS holders and a “sky is the limit” opportunity (depending on the exchange’s growth).

5. UFO Coin ($UFO)

UFO Coin ($UFO)

What is UFO Coin?

Although the name seems silly, and an ode to our intergalactic friends, UFO is actually short for Uniform Fiscal Object, a “decentralized peer-to-peer protocol” authorizing the safe transfer of value on a global scale. UFO coin utilizes Neoscrypt, a next generation proof of work (PoW) algorithm enabling for stronger and more efficient encryption, by adding an extra layer of protection and security to the network. On top of heightened resistance to brute force attacks, Neoscrypt reduces computational resources and costs, creating a lightning fast network, with low transaction fees, ultimately leading to a seamless transfer of value.

Why you should keep an eye on it

2017 proved UFO to be much more than a gimmick or silly cryptocurrency, as it made significant strides towards catching up with present Bitcoin technology through their implementation of features such as dynamic transaction fees, faster synchronization, and improved signing security.

In 2018, UFO aims to unveil a new client every month until its on par with “the first decentralized digital currency,” and has two upcoming forks, most notably, their CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY (CLTV) fork. CLTV eliminates transaction hash malleability and establishes a secure payment channel between merchants and customers, a key issue that plagued disgraced Japanese Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, further readying UFO for launch on other exchanges and significant growth in 2018.

6. NEO ($NEO)

NEO ($NEO)

What is NEO?

Formerly known as “AntShares,” NEO, like Ethereum, is China’s answer to utilizing blockchain technology to digitize assets, automate those assets, and establish a “smart” economy across a distributed network. Although both NEO and Ethereum are open source, fueled by crypto-assets (GAS for NEO, Ether for ETH), and designed to host smart contracts, DApps, and ICOS, where NEO separates itself from Ethereum is in its accommodation of governmental regulation and staying regulatory compliant.

Smart economies will leverage digitized physical assets (houses, gold, food, and anything you can think of) allowing individuals and companies to sell and trade them via smart contracts, and thus subject to government regulation. NEO accounts for all of this by providing a regulatory compliant platform for verifiable digital identities and digital asset certificates.

Why you should keep an eye on it

NEO is on the rise, and it has been for quite some time. If history has taught us anything, it’s that protectionism is deeply rooted in the Chinese economy, and…it’s working. Ali Baba has drastically closed the gap with Amazon, and WeChat has overwhelmingly cornered the Chinese social media market, highlighting an inclination to favor Chinese technology, networks, and goods, over outside forces.

When China, and its 1.4 billion strong population, decides to utilize blockchain technology, and it’s looking quite soon, NEO’s interconnected network, impressive partnerships, and vow of governmental compliance, could potentially catapult it into top spot as China’s smart economy. And, for investors looking for passive income, NEO pays out dividends in the form of GAS, an alternate token, and fee, paid to the Blockchain for consummation of resources, which can be exchanged for other tokens and coins.

7. EOS ($EOS)

EOS ($EOS)

What is EOS?

Hailed as the “Ethereum Killer,” EOS is a consensus blockchain operating system and architecture enabling the vertical and horizontal scaling of DApps, providing accounts, authentication, databases, asynchronous applications, and the scheduling of applications, which fundamentally improves the efficiency of smart business development.

Unlike Ethereum, transactions on the EOS Blockchain don’t have to queue and are all processed simultaneously (not sequentially), empowering the rapid deployment of thousands of DApps, the elimination of user fees, and ability to execute millions of transactions per second. For reference, Ethereum’s highest number of transactions in a day was roughly 1.4 million on January 4th, 2018.

Why you should keep an eye on it

Although the EOS ICO began all the way back in July 2017, it hasn’t actually ended, with a set end date scheduled for July 2018. The EOS ICO is unique in the way that it spans 341 days, with hopes of encouraging users and investors to familiarize themselves with the project before hastily investing. To date, EOS has raised over $700 million USD, with over $1 billion as the end goal.

What’s worth noting about the EOS team is their CTO, Dan Larimer, is an established and accomplished visionary in the blockchain world, known for founding blockchain-based financial real-time platform, BitShares, and blockchain social media and blogging platform, Steemit. As a blockchain veteran, Larimer has identified core weaknesses in various blockchain platforms and helped solve them through EOS delegated PoS, effective scaling, and software interoperability, causing some to wonder if EOS could actually be the true “Ethereum Killer” in 2018.

8. Universa ($UTN)

Universa ($UTN)

What is Universa?

Universa is a blockchain cryptographic protocol using a distributed state ledger and contract execution machine aiming to improve on Bitcoin and Ethereum technologies, with an emphasis on token representation and contractual agreements. Where Universa differs from traditional blockchains, which predominantly transact in currencies, is in their tokenization of the real sector of the economy, allowing you to put real-world assets on the Blockchain; ranging from passports to gym memberships, to bus tickets and taxi fares.

Additionally, Universa sports high-speed transactions (up to 22,000 per second), coupled with “enormously low” costs (roughly ten times cheaper than Ethereum’s), making it a promising alternative to Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Why you should keep an eye on it

With a successful, $28 million USD, ICO in early December, 2017, numerous awards and recent Chinese partnerships, superior transaction speeds with low (fixed) costs, and backing by a seasoned team and advisory board, including Lithuanian venture investor and CEO, Alexander Borodich, Universa has fortified an exciting 2018 ahead.

9. Espers ($ESP)

Espers ($ESP)

What is Espers?

One area still undeveloped in the blockchain ecosystem is the hosting of websites on the blockchain itself. Espers is the blockchain project and concerted effort of crypto enthusiasts and collective, Cryptocoderz, offering secured messaging and the hosting of websites on the Espers Blockchain. The Espers Blockchain seeks to act as a safe harbor for websites, revolutionizing current website safety and security standards, all while supporting expedited server times and the assurance your website will never be taken down or removed, for example, due to government censorship.

Why you should keep an eye on it

Espers have a big road ahead in 2018, still having yet to put out their white paper and a mobile client, but prioritized for Q1 of 2018. Most notably, Espers is a hybrid Proof-of-work (PoW) and Proof-of-stake (PoS) system, almost entirely eliminating the chance of a 51% network attack, and giving users the option of whether they want to mine Espers, or stake it. This hybrid system creates a harmonious balance by preventing potential PoW centralization, and unequal early adopter staking rewards. Moreover, users have reported up to 25% staking returns per year, making it a great coin for passive income.

Espers also support an extremely active and supportive community, and developers can be found answering questions on their Discord channel daily. As one of the only cryptocurrencies using a hybrid PoW and PoS, 30 million USD market cap, and growing daily volume, Espers has a promising 2018 ahead.

Note of caution: When buying Espers, steer clear of the exchange, YoBit.net, who is running the old Espers chain (ESP1), which is no longer associated with Espers.

10. DeepBrain Chain ($DBC)

DeepBrain Chain ($DBC)

What is DeepBrain Chain?

Based on the NEO Blockchain, DeepBrain Chain is the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) computing blockchain, distributing computational power, costs, and requirements for AI across the world. As a decentralized neural network, DeepBrain Chain leverages blockchain technology to provide low-cost, flexible, private, and secure AI computing to meet worldwide enterprise demand, all while acting as a secure data trading platform and establishing a clear separation of data usage and ownership rights.

Why you should keep an eye on it

There’s no question about the global push for AI, with a June 2017 report by McKinsey affirming such, noting, in 2016 companies invested between $26 billion USD to $39 billion USD and an estimated compound annual growth rate ranging from 20 percent to 63 percent over the next 3 years. Additionally, between 2012 and 2016 the global AI market saw an increase of over 5,000 AI startups. If you’re curious about AI market predictions, here’s a compiled list of forecasts from venture capitalists, technology execs, and market research firms, with some valuing AI as a trillion dollar industry by 2035.

As of January 11th, 2017, DeepBrain Chain’s market cap stands at $350 million USD, all with minimal marketing and exposure. They were awarded first prize (of 30 participants) in the enterprise sector of SMP2017 – a Chinese man-machine evaluation contest, boast such corporate clients as Microsoft, Siemens, and Samsung, and just recently went live on Chinese exchange Huobi, all pointing towards it being substantially undervalued at present and a sleeping giant of 2018.

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