Most readers have probably heard of Bitcoin, the digital coin that dominates the cryptocurrency market. It has gained notice both because of its skyrocketing value (from less than a cent in early 2010 to around $2,600 currently) and because it is frequently a key player in hacking- and black-market-related stories, from the looting of nearly half a billion dollars in coins from the Mt. Gox exchange in 2014 to the recent demand for payment in Bitcoin in the WannaCry ransomware attack.
But do you know Ethereum, with a total value of coins in circulation of close to $20 billion? Bitcoin Cash, which split off from the original Bitcoin on Aug. 1, lost about half its value within hours, then nearly quadrupled by the next day? Or, rounding out the Big Four, Ripple — whose currency is known as XRP — which shot up to about 40 cents by mid-May from less than a cent at the end of March? (Full disclosure: I owned but unloaded three of . . .
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