If it hadn’t already, crypto reached the mainstream in 2021. Total cryptocurrency market capitalization eclipsed $3 trillion, financial regulators from D.C. to Beijing started taking the asset class very seriously, and Elon Musk tanked Dogecoin on Saturday Night Live.
As we enter 2022, all eyes are looking to see what’s next in crypto. By now, blue-chip tokens like Bitcoin and Ether are familiar to anyone who’s had even a passing interest in “hodling.” And with Bitcoin now regularly trading around $60,000 and Ether at north of $4,000, some investors may be scouting for less established cryptocurrencies that may offer bigger returns.
Luckily for them, there is no shortage of alt-coins—cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin—that may break out and become the next household name.
Here are four emerging cryptocurrencies to watch as we enter 2022.
Shiba Inu (Symbol: SHIB)
The meme-coin sensation burst into the public consciousness in 2021, piggybacking on Dogecoin’s success to become the latest decentralized homage to man’s best friend (the Shiba Inu is a breed of dog). Shiba Inu—which is valued at fractions of a cent—rallied to an all-time high in late October, approaching a market cap of nearly $40 billion in the process.
But since those heady days of a month ago, things have taken a turn for the worse. SHIB has bled value in recent weeks, with its market cap having been roughly halved to around $20 billion (and declining). Will its descent prove the ultimate buying opportunity for the SHIB Army? Or will 2022 see Shiba Inu slip ever more into meme-coin obscurity?
Solana (Symbol: SOL)
Currently the world’s fifth-largest cryptocurrency with a market capitalization exceeding $62 billion, Solana has had a remarkable ascent in 2021. Having entered the year trading at less than $2, it hit an all-time high of $260 in early November, and now trades just north of $200.
The blockchain has increasingly gained plaudits for its robust transaction processing speed—with none other than Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of crypto exchange FTX, recently giving it the advantage over Ethereum. Should Solana continue to grow its presence, SOL holders could find themselves over the moon.
Cardano (Symbol: ADA)
Right behind SOL with a market cap of $55 billion sits Cardano, which also had a meteoric rise in 2021. The token entered the year trading at less than $0.20 and rallied to eclipse $3 by early September—becoming the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency in the process. ADA has also cooled off since its Labor Day heights, and now trades at $1.66.
Cardano is the brainchild of Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson, who left Ethereum after disagreeing with Vitalik Buterin’s designs on keeping that blockchain non-profit. Cardano has made a name in its own right—but with ADA in the midst of a months-long bear streak, 2022 could be a make-or-break year.
Avalanche (Symbol: AVAX)
Contrary to its name, Avalanche has been red-hot this year. At the start of 2021, AVAX was trading at just north of $3; by late November, it hit an all-time high exceeding $146, good enough to surpass Dogecoin and become one of the world’s 10 largest cryptocurrencies. It now trades at more than $116, with a market cap exceeding $26 billion
AVAX is the native token of the Avalanche blockchain, one of Ethereum’s emerging rivals in the realm of smart contracts. Spurring AVAX’s autumn rally was a new partnership with Deloitte that will see the consulting giant deploy Avalanche to support its work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). With the Deloitte deal giving Avalanche an enviable dose of credibility, 2022 could see the blockchain and its token leverage that foothold to reach new heights.
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