Is it safe to invest in cryptocurrency? Our in-house expert assesses risks and benefits of top crypto coins
Cryptocurrency prices are changing all the time, with big swings either way to contend with
Cryptocurrency seems to be the word on everyone’s lips at the moment.
Whether you’re a curious observer of the online phenomenon gathering pace on social media or thinking about investing in a digital currency, there’s no hiding from the crypto universe.
It’s sudden rise in popularity has been fuelled by record high market gains experienced since the turn of the year and Twitter mentions from public figures like Elon Musk and Snoop Dogg.
Despite this recent attention, cryptocurrencies have been around for much longer with the first digital token Bitcoin founded in 2009 - proving they are more than just the latest internet fad.
Musk’s own companies Tesla invested $1.5billion (£1.06million) in Bitcoin in February 2021 and SpaceX announced plans to send Dogecoin to the “literal moon” just three months later.
Is it safe to invest in cryptocurrency?
It’s sudden rise in popularity has been fuelled by record high market gains experienced since the turn of the year
Cryptocurrency prices are changing all the time, with big swings either way to contend with, making them appealing when the arrow is green but less so when red and pointing down.
Only recently the market was sent spiralling when Musk announced Tesla would no longer be accepting Bitcoin as payment for its products due to “environmental concerns”.
A further blow days later was felt when China announced plans to tighten its laws around cryptocurrency trades and exchanges, which saw the market plunge downwards further.
It is this volatile movement which makes cryptocurrencies high risk investments and leads to words of caution expressed by regulatory bodies like the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.
Yet crypto users don’t seem phased and many see the potential rewards outweighing the risk.
Here we look at the top 7 performing cryptocurrencies on the market, according to Coinbase.
The world’s first cryptocurrency is the most established and the most valuable with a market capitalization (market cap) of £523b, leading the way for others to follow.
It reached new highs in April when the price of one Bitcoin was marketed at £47,240.05 but has felt the full weight of the crypto crash that followed in early May.
Bitcoin’s current price is listed as £28,352.05 (27 May) - a 277.34% increase over 12 months.
It continues to recover from the blows dealt by Tesla and more widely, China, with an upwards trend of 8.72% over the past week, and 1.61% in the last 24 hours.
It may be the oldest cryptocurrency but it’s market dominance is as vibrant as ever.
Ethereum reclaimed its title as the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization in 2018 and hasn’t let go of its placing behind Bitcoin since.
Founded much later than its rival, in 2015, Ethereum has a smaller market cap of £229.4b.
It too has enjoyed a fruitful year with steady market gains from December 2020 through to the end of April before a sharp spike led to a new record high price of £3098.17.
It came just before the crash which saw its price per coin value drop by more than half of that number to £1,216.19 on 23 May before a 15.64% upturn in share price followed.
Ethereum’s current price stands at £2,007.59 - an increase of 1,100.64% over the year.
Unlike some other cryptos, Tether is known as a stablecoin which aims to maintain stable cryptocurrency valuations across the market.
It has consistently kept a price of around $1 US dollar, equivalent to 71p GB pound sterling today, and has an appeal from investors who want to avoid the extreme volatility of the market.
The crypto has a controversial past, with the New York Attorney General accusing Tether’s parent company of hiding substantial losses to the tune of $850m (£600m) in 2019.
Its market value plummeted at the time but has recovered since, though UK investors beware its price fluctuates in accordance with the current USD-GBP exchange rate.
Binance Coin is another cryptocurrency which has enjoyed market highs in 2021.
In May it reached a new record price of £492.10 before the subsequent crash saw it plummet to £150.89. One Binance Coin is now listed as the equivalent of £271.96.
It has seen an 11.35% increase over the past week, which is still significantly down on the month’s trading, but if zoomed out further users can see substantial gains over the year.
Binance Coin, with a market cap of £40.6b, has seen a 1,931.23% increase in 12 months.
A self-proclaimed “green cryptocurrency”, Cardano has somewhat weathered the storm brought on by the environment concerns spoken about by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Its founder Charles Hoskinson estimates that Cardano’s entire system uses less than 0.01% of the energy consumed by Bitcoin’s network and controversial mining process.
And, as a result, has seen a 16.47% increase over the past week and 38.55% increase in its value over the past month, despite blips brought on by the overall market’s experience.
Its current price of £1.23 is the result of a 2,653.49% increase on the year.
XRP, the digital token created by Ripple, hit the headlines in April 2021 for outperforming Bitcoin and Ethereum as it saw considerable market gains beyond its more moderate competitors.
Its market cap of £33.1b is the seventh largest of the current cryptocurrencies listed.
XRP reached a high of £1.43 on 14 April but its value was reduced to a third of that due to China’s crackdown and has since recovered somewhat to £0.73p per coin.
Founded in 2012, it’s current price represents a 3.03% increase over the last 24 hours and a considerable 351.74% increase over the past 12 months.
Possibly one of the most popular cryptocurrencies of late is Dogecoin, having attracted public mentions from Elon Musk, Snoop Dogg and others, as well as Saturday Night Live.
Created as a joke, the crypto is synonymous with a particular breed of dog - Shiba Inu - which was an internet meme at the time of its listing on the market.
Doge, as it is sometimes referred to, has risen a whopping 11,725.49% in value over the past year to a current price of £0.24p, with a 2.04% increase in the past week after the crash.
It reached a record high of £0.5274 on 8 May 2021 before the market fall, with users keen to get its price to the equivalent of $1 (roughly £0.71p) before the year is out.
If you are planning on investing in crypto coins, please note:
The value of investments is variable and can go down as well as up.
If you’ve been approached by a ‘trader’ promising large returns, this is a scam.
Always ensure the seller is registered with the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Many cryptocurrency sellers are not. A list of registered traders can be found on the FCA website.
This article contains affiliate links, though this has not affected our editorial judgement.