Crypto’s 2024 Outlook: Who Will Rock The Charts?

  • By Heidi Unrau
  • March 15, 2024

The dawn of rock and roll ignited a revolution of electrifying rhythms and disruption. Today’s top cryptocurrencies are drumming up that same energy in 2024. The stage is set for spectacular highs and lows, with each coin offering its own unique performance. But in the words of AC/DC, it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll. Which coins will dominate the charts and which ones won’t? Let’s spotlight six of the most buzzworthy cryptocurrencies of 2024 and what might lie ahead for each.

Bitcoin (BTC)

Bitcoin (BTC) is the Chuck Berry of the crypto world, the original rock legend who started it all. Launched in 2009 by a mysterious person or group of people known as Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is the world’s first and most influential cryptocurrency. It was created as a digital alternative to traditional currencies.

Despite its growing popularity, Bitcoin has not been able to fully replace traditional fiat currency. To do that, it must fulfill all three core functions of money as a store of value, a unit of account, and a medium of exchange. 

Unfortunately, its dramatic price swings make it almost impossible to use as a unit of account and a medium of exchange. This continues to be a significant roadblock to mass adoption. 

Despite its extreme volatility, Bitcoin has also proven to be an incredible store of value over the long term. Its price has climbed almost 90,000,000% since launch, which includes several prolific crashes over the years.
The recent Bitcoin ETF approval in the U.S. boosted investor confidence in Bitcoin as a legitimate investible asset class. It not only made Bitcoin accessible to a much larger pool of investors, but the increased liquidity could help stabilize the market and reduce volatility. This can potentially lead to further growth, innovation, and even mainstream adoption as a functional currency. 

The next Bitcoin Halving event is estimated to occur on or around April 21st, 2024. When this happens, minors will receive 50% fewer rewards for validating transactions and adding new blocks to the blockchain. Halving events occur every four years and are specifically designed to control the supply and price. Historically, the price of Bitcoin has reached a new all-time high after each halving. 

Opportunities & Risks For Bitcoin Investors

Opportunities Risks
Appreciation Potential: Bitcoin’s value has already increased roughly 90,000,000% since it launched in 2009. Volatility: value can rapidly increase or decrease, which could lead to substantial gains or losses for investors in a short period.
Portfolio Diversification: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are recognized as a new investible asset class. Market Speculation: Bitcoin's value is driven primarily by speculation, which can lead to market bubbles and crashes.
Innovative Technology Adoption: Blockchain technology is a cutting-edge innovation with applications beyond digital currencies. Lack of Understanding: the complexity of blockchain and Bitcoin can lead to misinformed decisions and potential losses.
A Global Market: Bitcoin's decentralized nature makes it accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a smart device. Regulatory Changes: New regulations or bans in major markets could adversely affect Bitcoin's adoption, usability, and value.
Inflation Hedge: Bitcoin is commonly called digital gold because it can act as a hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty. Security Concerns: while blockchain itself is secure, Bitcoin exchanges and wallets are susceptible to hacking.

Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum (ETH) is the Buddy Holly of crypto with various talents beyond just a currency. Buddy wrote, recorded, and produced his own music. Similarly, Ethereum’s multi-functionality has made it the second most popular coin in the world. Its blockchain platform is a digital ecosystem that supports decentralized applications (dApps), decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and smart contracts.

Since launching in 2015, Ethereum has exploded in popularity to become the second-largest digital asset by market capitalization. It’s beloved for its strong community and team of developers who continue to drive innovation in the crypto space. 

But, like Bitcoin, Ethereum has experienced significant price volatility, market bubbles, and crashes over the years. Despite the choppy market, Ethereum’s value has risen almost 115,000% since inception. 

A significant downside to using the Ethereum blockchain for advanced functions, like NFTs and smart contracts, are extremely high transaction costs known as gas fees. These fees are cost-prohibitive and unpredictable, especially when the network is congested. High gas fees discourage users and developers from using the platform, who may choose less expensive blockchains with similar functionality. 

However, 2024 could be the year that Ethereum experiences significant growth. Now that the U.S. has approved a Bitcoin Spot ETF, an Ethereum Spot ETF seems more likely than ever. This would allow investors to gain exposure to Ethereum without the technical challenges of directly holding it themselves. 

Following the Bitcoin ETF launch, investors poured over $5 billion USD into the asset, inflating the price almost 50% at the time of writing. If past is prologue, an ETH Spot ETF could result in similar explosive growth. 

Then there’s the Dencun upgrade which is scheduled to happen on March 13th, 2024. It’s designed to make those more advanced transactions significantly faster, cheaper, and more efficient. It also aims to improve Ethereum’s scalability and security. 

However, any major network upgrade comes with the risk of bugs and other unforeseen issues.  Concerns about the Dencun upgrade include challenges in managing larger data blocks and storage capacity, which could impact network stability. If successful, the upgrade could see a significant increase in the price of ETH. If unsuccessful, the price could plummet.

Opportunities & Risks For Ethereum Investors

Opportunities Risks
Innovation Leader: continuous development positions it at the forefront of blockchain innovation. Platform Upgrades: The shift to Ethereum 2.0 brings technical and execution risks.
Diverse Applications: supports a wide range of dApps and smart contracts offer diverse investment avenues. Scalability Issues: Despite ongoing upgrades, it faces challenges with scalability and high transaction fees.
Growing Decentralized Finance (DeFi) Ecosystem: the backbone of the burgeoning DeFi sector, offering significant growth potential. Regulatory Uncertainty: regulatory changes can impact Ethereum's adoption and value.
NFT Market Growth: currently dominates the NFT market, presenting substantial investment opportunities. Market Volatility: as a speculative asset, it’s subject to high market volatility.
Strong Developer Community: robust developer base fosters continuous improvement and widespread adoption of Ethereum. Competitive Landscape: alternative blockchain platforms pose a competitive threat to Ethereum.

Ripple (XRP)

Next, we have The Beatles of crypto. Sort of. While Ripple (XRP) hardly has a comparable fanbase, it does have potentially massive international appeal, especially for major financial institutions. The Ripple Network (RippleNet) is a patented payment network that uses XRP to connect banks, payment providers, and digital asset exchanges. This makes cross-border transactions faster and cheaper. 

Despite its current position as the 6th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, XRP has been plagued with legal battles. In December 2020, it was sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for selling an unregistered security (XRP). Several cryptocurrency exchanges delisted it, negatively impacting the price for the duration of the case. Ripple enjoyed a partial win when a judge ruled the company did not violate securities law by allowing retail investors to buy XRP.

Unfortunately, the company was found guilty of violating securities law by selling XRP to institutional investors. The court is expected to determine the penalties on April 29, 2024. Depending on the severity, XRP could see a significant drop in value.

Ripple has also faced lawsuits from investors claiming they lost money because Ripple misrepresented the nature of XRP. These lawsuits also claim that XRP was sold to them as an unregistered security and that Ripple made misleading statements about its utility and profit potential. 

Despite Ripple’s controversy in the U.S., XRP has been readily adopted in other countries with different regulatory frameworks and the company has partnered with hundreds of financial institutions and fintechs. Following their partial win against the SEC in July 2023, the price of XRP jumped over 180% in just a few days and was relisted on various exchanges. After an expected price correction, it has continued to gain ground.

Opportunities & Risks For Ripple Investors

Opportunities Risks
Rapid Transactions: its speed and low transaction costs are unparalleled. Legal Challenges: faces ongoing litigation and regulatory scrutiny.
Financial Partnerships: ties with hundreds of banks and fintechs could promote mass adoption. Volatility: as a speculative asset, it’s subject to dramatic market swings.
Financial Innovation: has the potential to overhaul the global payment system. Ripple's Influence: its value depends heavily on the success of Ripple Labs.
Environmental Sustainability: it’s less energy-demanding than many cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. Regulatory Acceptance: the uncertain regulatory landscape can affect adoption.

Litecoin (LTC)

Litecoin has been nicknamed the “silver to Bitcoin’s gold,” but I like to call it the Elvis Presley to Bitcoin’s Chuck Berry. It’s a charismatic performer that brought a new twist to an existing genre and popularized crypto for a wider audience. Created in 2011 by former Google engineer, Charlie Lee, Litecoin (LTC) improves upon Bitcoin with faster, cheaper transactions.

Unfortunately, the Mimblewimble Upgrade could pose a significant risk to investors. In simple terms, it adds a privacy filter to Litecoin transactions, obscuring details like who is sending and who is receiving. Obviously, this makes transactions harder to trace. That’s great news for users but could derail Litcoin’s path to mainstream adoption. 

Privacy coins are the focus of intense regulatory scrutiny because they may not comply with anti-money laundering and transaction reporting legislation. This could lead to stricter regulations or even bans on Litecoin in some countries. 

Merchants and financial institutions might choose not to engage with Litcoin, which could limit its market reach and pose a long-term risk to investors. In response to the Mimblewimble privacy update, several exchanges in South Korea have already delisted Litecoin. 

Despite the controversy, Litecoin has consistently been among the top cryptocurrencies in terms of market capitalization. It has gained significant attention and adoption as a payment method, with thousands of merchants and online retailers accepting it. Its similarity to Bitcoin and distinctive Scrypt algorithm are the main reasons Litecoin has survived market volatility and established itself as a blue-chip digital asset. 

Opportunities & Risks For Litecoin Investors

Opportunities Risks
Faster Transactions: faster processing time makes it an attractive option for daily transactions and potential mainstream adoption. Market Competition: faces stiff competition from other cryptocurrencies that offer similar or more advanced features.
Lower Transaction Fees: costs are generally lower than Bitcoin, making it a preferred cost-effective alternative. Volatility: as a speculative asset, it’s subject to high price volatility, which can lead to significant gains or losses.
Established Reputation: as one of the oldest cryptocurrencies, it has built a strong community and has an established track record as a top coin. Limited Differentiation: very similar to Bitcoin, which might limit its unique appeal in the crowded crypto market.
Technological Testbed: often implements and tests new technologies before they are adopted by Bitcoin, potentially increasing its value if these technologies become widely accepted. Regulatory Challenges: The MimbleWimble privacy upgrade could attract regulatory scrutiny, potentially leading to stricter regulations or bans in some regions.
Enhanced Privacy: the MimbleWimble upgrade adds a layer of privacy to transactions, making them more secure and confidential. Market Acceptance Concerns: the privacy upgrade could alienate exchanges and risk-averse investors, potentially limiting Litecoin's market reach.

Cardano (ADA)

Finally, Cardano (ADA) is giving David Bowie vibes as the “Chameleon of Crypto.” Bowie was renowned for reinventing himself and constantly evolving his music. Similarly, Cardano stands out from other cryptocurrencies for its creative, versatile, and forward-thinking nature.

The Vasil Hard Fork is the next big leap that aims to speed up transactions and support more complex operations, therefore improving Caradno’s scalability. Specifically, Vasil involves upgrading the programming language for smart contracts and increasing network capacity to support a higher volume of traffic.

Cardano’s commitment to academically scrutinized innovation has amassed a dedicated community of supporters and developers. Its middle-out approach to power redistribution has helped create a more secure, transparent, and fair infrastructure for financial and social applications. Once the Vasil Hard Fork is executed, Cardano is poised to rival Ethereum. 

However, its founder, Charles Hoskinson, has been a polarizing figure in the crypto community. As a result, Caradon is one of the most divisive cryptocurrencies that has garnered both a devout following of believers and an outspoken community of haters. 

The controversy primarily stems from the slow and methodical development approach of Cardano. While Hoskinson advocates for a rigorous, peer-reviewed process in building Cardano's blockchain infrastructure, critics argue that this approach has led to delays and missed deadlines. Investors are split with some feeling frustrated by the slow pace of development, while others appreciate the commitment to thorough research.

If the Cardano team can deliver on its technological promises and continue to expand its partnerships and use cases on time, ADA could see significant growth and increased adoption. However, the ongoing scrutiny surrounding its development process and the actions of its founder could pose significant risks for investors - especially when growth hinges on market sentiment. 

Opportunities & Risks for Cardano Investors

Opportunities Risks
Advanced Technology: Ouroboros PoS is more energy-efficient than PoW systems, like Bitcoin. Market Volatility: as a speculative asset, it’s subject to significant price fluctuations.
Academic-Led Development: rigorous peer-reviewed research can lead to more innovative and secure developments. Regulatory Uncertainty: changes in global cryptocurrency regulations could impact Cardano's adoption and value.
Growing Ecosystem: upgrades that support dApps and smart contracts are attracting more users and developers. Development Delays: delayed upgrades like the Vasil Hard Fork may affect investor confidence.
Staking Rewards: investors can earn rewards by staking ADA, contributing to network security and decision-making. Competition: Cardano currently faces stiff competition from other blockchain platforms, like Ethereum.
Potential for Scalability: upgrades like the Vasil Hard Fork aim to improve network capacity and functionality. Adoption Challenges: widespread adoption is not guaranteed and depends on various factors.

Dogecoin (DOGE) & Shiba Inu (SHIB)

Not to be overlooked, we have two wildly popular memecoins: Dogecoin (DOGE) and Shiba Inu (SHIB). Despite their parabolic success, they cannot be compared to the rock legends who permanently transformed music. Instead, these coins are to the crypto world what The Spice Girls and Aqua were to the 90s music scene. They captured the attention of a loyal, international fanbase the way our nostalgic popstars captured the hearts of millions with catchy bops and a colourful image. 

In 2024, Dogecoin's trajectory seems to be influenced heavily by its adoption as a payment method. Several major retailers already accept DOGE such as Tesla, Twitch, Microsoft, and more. Now that the broader crypto market is firmly in bull territory, we could see more retailers hop on the bandwagon, putting upward pressure on the price.

Dubbed the “Doge killer”, Shiba Inu (SHIB) could also see significant growth as the two coins typically battle it out for top spot. What started as FOMO-based memecoin has blossomed into one of the most popular and highly valued crypto ecosystems. In late 2023, its creator announced plans to introduce DeFi capabilities. This could further legitimize the coin and generate more demand which could drive up the price. 

However, each coin’s growth potential all boils down to which one has the bigger, more enthusiastic community. In this case, popularity is the main driver of development and adoption. That makes each coin inherently unpredictable and impossible to project. 

Their extreme price volatility has led to both heavy losses and overnight millionaires. But that excitement is the basis of their appeal. You could wake up filthy rich the next time Elon Musk Tweets about them. 

Opportunities & Risks For Dogecoin and Shiba Inu Investors

Opportunities Risks
Viral Popularity: potential for rapid growth due to viral trends and celebrity endorsements. High Volatility: prices can be extremely unpredictable and influenced by social media, making it prone to pump-dump events.
Community Support: strong, engaged communities can drive adoption and usage. No Intrinsic Value: value largely based on hype rather than underlying utility or technology.
Entry Point for New Investors: Attracts new, casual investors to the crypto market. Market Saturation: the rise of numerous other meme coins can dilute the market.
Affordability: lower price per coin makes it accessible to a broader audience. Regulatory Risks: potential for increased regulatory scrutiny on less utility-driven coins.
Cultural Impact: strong brand identity tied to popular culture and internet memes. Dependence on Community: popularity and value highly dependent on continued community support.

Tether (USDT)

Finally, we have the Johnny Cash of crypto, Tether (USDT). Johnny was a versatile musician who blended various music genres and appealed to a wide audience. Similarly, USDT is a unique type of cryptocurrency called a stablecoin that introduced cohesion between traditional finance and crypto. 

Its value is pegged to the U.S. dollar to keep the price stable, hence the name stablecoin. Today, USDT is one of the most used and traded cryptocurrencies by volume. Active traders primarily use it as a hedge against market volatility. It provides a convenient way to store value without cashing out to fiat, allowing traders to respond quickly to opportunities and changing market conditions. 

It’s also popular as a medium of exchange for goods and services because its value is not impacted by market volatility. Many crypto-friendly businesses accept USDT as a method of payment as it operates like the digital version of traditional money. And thanks to its price stability, it’s also commonly used for cross-border transactions. 

But, like Johnny Cash, Tether has also experienced challenges and controversy. The company falsely claimed that every USDT in circulation was 100% backed by a physical reserve of U.S. dollars. As a result, the company was fined $41 million by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). As a result, Tether now publishes the value of its reserve holdings on the public website each day.  

Currently, Tether’s CEO is a co-defendant in a class-action lawsuit. The company is accused of market manipulation and minting large amounts of USDT without sufficient reserve backing. The case is ongoing. 

Opportunities & Risks For Tether Investors

Opportunities Risks
Market Stability: provides a stable hedge against market volatility. Regulatory Scrutiny: subject of investigations & legal actions. Ongoing regulatory pressure could impact its stability and acceptance.
High Liquidity: top stablecoin by market cap makes it easier to enter/exit positions. Transparency Concerns: ongoing skepticism of reserve accuracy and financial disclosures may affect investor confidence.
Widespread Adoption: listed on countless exchanges & platforms, likely to be integrated into new markets. Market Manipulation: allegations of market manipulation have caused legal challenges.
Blockchain Diversification: operates across multiple blockchains, enhancing transaction capabilities. Competition: additional stablecoin alternatives could erode market share & influence within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
On/Off Ramp to Crypto Market: provides a bridge between traditional finance and the cryptocurrency market. Technical & Operational Risks: underlying technology or operational failures could disrupt transactions and affect utility.

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