Note: This is not financial advice. This is for educational purposes only. Please note that cryptocurrency is a highly volatile asset class; only invest what you can afford to lose.
The best cryptocurrency of 2022 is a digital asset that demonstrates practical utility, making it an explosive disruptor in our world that could potentially pave the way for Web 3.0.
Bitcoin (BTC) is the show-stopping cryptocurrency star that climbed to an all-time high of $64,000 in mid-April of 2021. At the time, Bitcoin outperformed Wall Street’s best-performing sectors. Dogecoin, a meme token that launched as a joke, also shocked the world as it climbed to an unexpected peak of 70 cents last year. With their jaw-dropping price activity, Bitcoin and Dogecoin became media darlings, but come on — there are plenty of underrated cryptocurrencies that deserve some spotlight, too!
There are a slew of crypto projects that are working on promising ventures that could potentially upend the fintech world. They're not just stores of value; they offer practical services for businesses, content creators and more. That being said, let's dive into the best cryptocurrencies of 2022 by utility.
What is the best cryptocurrency in 2022?
The best cryptocurrency that offers utility is ETH: the digital currency of the Ethereum blockchain. It is the second most popular cryptocurrency next to Bitcoin, but if you ask me, ETH could gain enough traction to surpass BTC thanks to the booming non-fungible token (NFT) market. NFTs are digital collectibles (e.g. music, artwork and tweets) that often run on the Ethereum network.
As celebrities like Eminem, Tony Hawk, Snoop Dogg and Rob Gronkowski cashed in on NFTs, ETH soared. Even the National Basketball Association (NBA) created a trading platform that lets fans trade NFT-based video highlights of their favorite players; it’s called NBA Top Shot.
Unlike Bitcoin, you have to pay expensive “gas fees” to process transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. Gas fees compensate for the computing energy required to validate transactions. In other words, if you’re an artist who wants to turn your artwork into an NFT, you have to pay a gas fee. Sure, gas fees can be as low as $15, but more often than not, they're sky high. I've often seen $500 gas fees due to high network demand.
That being said, with many people utilizing Ethereum, you can see why Ether’s price skyrocketed to more than $4,000 in May 2021. As silly as it sounds, NFTs such as Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, this quirky GIF of a Pop Tart-bodied cat, and the popular Disaster Girl meme all played a role in ETH’s sudden success.
The best cryptocurrency 2022 ranked by utility
ETH is the best cryptocurrency in terms of utility due to the booming NFT market. Although NFTs played a part in Ether’s meteoric surge, its support for DeFi likely contributed to its rally, too.
Ethereum, launched in 2015, sought to create a platform for developers to build and host apps without centralized entities like Google and Apple. Ethereum allows decentralized apps (dApps) to run on the blockchain (a peer-to-peer network of computers). You also can’t talk about Ethereum without mentioning its smart-contract functionality. Smart contracts cut out middlemen by using code that auto-executes actions after certain terms and conditions are met. Think of smart contracts as well-programmed, trustworthy robots that carry out transactions between two parties without pesky, authoritative, industry-dominating intermediaries.
One downside of Ethereum, however, is the blockchain's ridiculously high gas fees, which may turn off the general public. Ethereum is also slow in processing transactions.
The most popular blockchain protocols are proof of work and proof of stake. Solana uses neither. In fact, it uses a revolutionary new protocol called proof of history (PoH). The concept is a little complex, but to keep it short and simple, PoH is touted as being faster than PoW and PoS because it maintains its own clock — crytographic time stamps if you will — to "prove" that time has passed. Other blockchains, on the other hand, rely on a sequential production of blocks to prove a passage of time. This can cause some delay as the network waits for confirmation and consensus before advancing transactions.
Solana is also an Ethereum competitor. Many dApps (decentralized apps) run on the Ethereum network, but Ethereum has several issues, including slow transaction times and high gas fees. Solana, on the other hand, plans to offer a more scalable, faster network that Ethereum is struggling to offer.
Keep in mind, though, that Solana is still in its experimental stages. In fact, Solana has had some embarrassing network issues, causing people to question whether it can live up to its claims. Solana has yet to prove that it can outperform its greatest rival (i.e., Ethereum).
Monero is the cryptocurrency you’d purchase for high-level privacy and anonymity. Bitcoin and Ethereum have transparent blockchains: transactions can be traced and linked to real-world identities. Monero, on the other hand, has an opaque blockchain; recipients won’t know who you are or how you received your money because Monero uses privacy-enhancing technologies to ensure anonymity.
Monero boasts that it offers fast electronic cash: there are no multi-day holding periods, check-clearing fees or other impediments. Monero is also decentralized, so users don’t have to worry about a single controlling authority overseeing their transactions. There’s always a demand for private, anonymous currency, so Monero is an eye-catching investment.
However, there is a downside; it’s often delisted from exchanges. Bittrex is the most recent platform to kick Monero to the curb.
Where to buy Monero: Binance US (opens in new tab)
In the same way some games are exclusive to one platform (e.g. The Last of Us 2 on PlayStation), many cryptocurrencies are solely linked to one blockchain (e.g. ETH on Ethereum). However, Polkadot is swooping in to change that with a concept called cross-platform interoperability (CPI). Think of CPI as cross-platform play, but for cryptocurrencies.
Polkadot’s primary mission is to unite independent blockchains under one network so that they can communicate and carry out operations together. For example, a use case for CPI is a smart-contract event on Ethereum triggering a payment on the Bitcoin blockchain. The downside of DOT is that its CPI concept has not yet materialized into reality.
So what's Near's deal? According to its official website, the founders are seeking to build a robust infrastructure with Near that paves the way for web 3.0 adoption. The team behind Near claims that the protocol will offer high speeds, low fees and a progressive UX.
As it turns out, Near runs "in concert" with many of the cryptocurrencies already listed here, including Ethereum, Polkadot and Cosmos (ATOM). In other words, the Near team seeks to facilitate chain interoperability between some of the most popular blockchains on the planet.
Where to buy NEAR: Binance US (opens in new tab)
AAVE could potentially be one of the most useful cryptocurrencies due to its peer-to-peer lending ambitions. AAVE first launched in 2017 under a different name: ETHLend. In 2019, the crypto project was rebranded as "AAVE."
AAVE runs on the Ethereum blockchain (another reason why ETH is ranked as one of the most useful cryptos of 2021). According to WealthSimple (opens in new tab) there are three advantages to AAVE's peer-to-peer ending project.
The first one is, of course, allowing users to take out loans for cryptocurrencies. The second is that users don't need to submit personal information to get approved for loans: AAVE doesn't care about your credit score, race, socio-economic status and other social factors. As long as you have cryptocurrency that you can use as collateral, you can borrow on AAVE. Thirdly, acquiring loans on AAVE is reportedly damn-near instant.
AAVE certainly has the potential to completely disrupt retail banks and the current lending industry. However, cryptocurrency is still a new concept to the general populace and may not be the most beginner friendly.