Alternate cryptocurrencies are all the rage now. Over the past two years, we have seen the emergence of Namecoin, Litecoin, Freicoin, Terracoin, Devcoin, PPCoin, Worldcoin, and over thirty other coins all vying for a chance to become the next great cryptocurrency. Most recently of all, Primecoin entered the scene, offering a cryptocurrency whose mining algorithm based on locating prime number chains has attracted over seventy thousand pageviews on the Bitcointalk forums alone. With so many currencies to choose from, it can be hard to keep track of each one. Even Bitcoin data is highly disparate, with some sites offering accurate up-to-the minute market data, other sites focusing on mining statistics and still others more focused on transaction counts. Fortunately, there are a large number of sites that can help. Over the past six months, we have seen the emergence of dozens of different aggregator sites, all sharing the same goal: to keep track of the large and rapidly growing number of cryptocurrencies that are now available, and help users make sense of it all. Some of these sites offer market statistics or network data, others are mining-focused, and still others exist to help arbitrage traders. Of all the websites that have popped up to serve these new niches, here is a collection of some of the best.
- The Alternate Cryptocurrencies Subforum – this section of the Bitcointalk forums (which were formerly the official Bitcoin forums) is by far the largest gathering spot for alternate cryptocurrency discussion. Nearly every new currency makes its first announcement on this subforum, and many continue to use it as their main location for posting updates. One can also find giveaways, alternate cryptocurrency-accepting websites, and if any new data aggregator appears after this article is written chances are it will find its way on there.
- List of Altcoin Faucets – one particularly useful post on the alternate cryptocurrency subforum, providing a list of all of the sites you can go to to get your first few units of almost every alternate cryptocurrency available.
- Coinchoose – Coinchoose provides basic data on 30 cryptocurrencies, particularly targeted toward miners. The site shows the mining algorithm (sha256 or scrypt), difficulty, reward, price (in BTC) and network hashpower of each currency, and also provides another particularly useful statistic for miners: the profitability of mining every currency relative to Bitcoin. Hence the name of the site – if you have a miner and want to decide which coin you should choose to work on, Coinchoose is the place to go. The site also offers its data in a computer-friendly JSON format at coinchoose.com/api.php.
- CryptCoin Monitor – an Android application to help alternate cryptocurrency miners keep track of all of their mining pool accounts.
- CrypTrader – this web application allows users to link their accounts to MtGox, BTC-E, Bter and Vircurex, and then instantly buy and sell on any of the exchanges from a single page. The basic idea behind CrypTrader has been tried before, in the form of Eun-Joo Hansch Seoung’s BTC Trader application, but Cryptrader is superior in a number of ways. First of all, unlike BTC Trader it is a web interface, making it much easier to use and requiring less trust on the user’s part than a desktop application. It is even possible, and recommended, to provide CrypTrader with API keys to your accounts without withdrawal privileges, so even if CrypTrader (or someone who hacks CrypTrader) proves to be malicious they can only move your money from one currency to another; they have no way of simply taking it for themselves. Second, CrypTrader goes beyond just Bitcoin, supporting all of the thirteen cryptocurrencies supported at the four exchanges. Altogether, if you are an arbitrage trader looking for a convenient way of looking at the price discrepancies between the various cryptocurrency markets, CrypTrader is the place to go.
- Cryptsy – Cryptsy is one particular cryptocoin market, offering over thirty alternate cryptocurrencies tradable for BTC on its exchange. Coins-e is another site with a similar function.
- Quandl Bitcoin Markets – Quandl is now offering a page with a large number of Bitcoin-related statistics aggregated from blockchain.info and Bitcoincharts. Statistics include the number of Bitcoin transactions, the average block size, the blockchain size, and Bitcoin prices on twenty different currency/exchange pairs. All data is also offered in a computer-readable JSON format, and for every statistic Quandl also offers a highly advanced chart interface and the ability to download historical data in a number of different formats. The only thing that the site is missing (as of the time of this writing) is mining statistics such as those from bitcoinwatch.com; once it includes that, this may well become the only Bitcoin statistics site worth visiting.
- Cryptocoincharts – this site offers charts and the orderbook for over seventy cryptocurrencies, and for many currencies the site shows data for multiple exchanges and, in several cases, even data for exchanges converting directly between that currency and the USD or Euro. Altogether, the site contains 150 charts, making it one of the most detailed alternate cryptocurrency data aggregators out there.
- Ripple Charts – Ripple Charts provides dozens of charts for currency markets over the Ripple network, and is the best place to get price data for Ripple’s own internal currency unit, the XRP.
- Cryptocoin Explorer – the altcoin equivalent to Bitcoin’s Block Explorer, the site provides information on addresses, transactions and blocks for over 15 cryptocurrencies. The site also provides its data in a machine-readable format via an API, which also gives the site another practical application: one can use the site to query for the balance of a particular address, allowing merchants to start accepting any of these currencies without having to worry about running their own local node (although they will need to generate a few thousand addresses; creating a deterministic wallet that can generate addresses for any cryptocurrency is still an open problem).
For the cryptocurrency enthusiast, these sites are all valuable tools in a rapidly growing cryptocurrency toolbox. Multicurrency online wallets are perhaps the one application that still can be worked on; so far, every cryptocurrency has retained Bitcoin’s cryptographic relationship between private keys, public keys and addresses exactly (except possibly changing a “magic byte” to make addresses start with a different letter), so one should easily be able to make a deterministic wallet that works over all currently existing alternate cryptocurrencies at the same time. Complete alternate currency merchant tools are the next step; currently, Kojn offers Litecoin and Bitcoin support at the same time, but accepting a dozen cryptocurrencies is the next step. From there, well, let a thousand cryptocurrencies bloom.
Vitalik Buterin is a co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine who has been involved in the Bitcoin community since 2011, and has contributed to Bitcoin both as a writer and the developer of a fork of bitcoinjs-lib, pybitcointools and multisig.info, as well as one of the developers behind Egora. Now, Vitalik's primary job is as the main developer of Ethereum, a project which intends to create a next-generation smart contract and decentralized application platform that allows people to create any kind of decentralized application on top of a blockchain that can be imagined.