If you’re reading this now, chances are you didn’t “get in early” with established cryptos like Bitcoin (CCC:BTC-USD) and Ethereum (CCC:ETH-USD). You may have even missed out on the high-utility “Ethereum killers” that gained value over the past year, like Cardano (CCC:ADA-USD).
Some crypto enthusiasts had the foresight (or luck) to enter positions in these names for a mere fraction of their price today. But fortunately for those a little late to the crypto game, the space hasn’t run out of opportunities to get in at the ground floor.
There are scores of smaller, more obscure altcoins out there with a shot of moving up the CoinMarketCap rankings. Are they high-risk? Yes — that’s a given. Their networks’ usage may grow, and in turn their coins or tokens could rise tremendously in value. At the same time, each one is at risk of fizzling out if the blockchain/decentralized finance (DeFi) economy matures and settles on a handful of cryptos.
Despite the risks, however, it may be worthwhile to enter small positions in these up-and-coming cryptos. Even one successful investment could make up for losses from other coins that don’t make it. These seven under-the-radar names can still catch on in a big way:
- Algorand (CCC:ALGO-USD)
- Ankr (CCC:ANKR-USD)
- BarnBridge (CCC:BOND-USD)
- Chiliz (CCC:CHZ-USD)
- EOS (CCC:EOS-USD)
- Hedera Hashgraph (CCC:HBAR-USD)
- Holo (CCC:HOT-USD)
Cryptos: Algorand (ALGO)
As I recently wrote, Algorand isn’t an “Ethereum killer” just yet. But given its high levels of success since it went live two years ago, Algorand can enter the same league as Cardano, Polkadot (CCC:DOT-USD) and Polygon (CCC:MATIC-USD).
Why? For one thing, it has the technology to compete. Algorand has fast transaction speeds and smart contract capabilities, which are giving other “killers” a shot at beating Ethereum at its own game.
Additionally, the network wants to serve as a bridge between centralized and decentralized financial systems. This could help Algorand catch on with DeFi and decentralized application (dApp) developers.
If the network is adopted rapidly like Polygon, ALGO’s price could remain resilient. But that’s not guaranteed. Admittedly, the crypto could produce jaw-dropping returns for investors who dive into it at its current price under $1. But with uncertainty still looming over cryptos, Algorand may still experience some short-term volatility.
So what’s the best way to approach this possible “Ethereum killer” in the making? Enter a position, but don’t bet the ranch. The front-runners in the battle for DeFi dominance could still crowd out Algorand. But with its so-far solid track record, you may regret not having at least some exposure to ALGO.
What’s the case for “dropping anchor” on Ankr? In other words, what makes this obscure altcoin worthy of a buy-and-hold position? The answer lies in the niche it’s targeting: computing capacity. As DeFi continues to grow, it’s going to require greater levels of computing capacity. Without it, cryptos will struggle to fully “disrupt” traditional centralized finance.
The Ankr network solves this problem by connecting those who need to “borrow” computing capacity with others who have plenty to spare. I wouldn’t expect it to become one of the top 10 most-valuable cryptos out there. But Ankr can move up from its current CoinMarketCap rank of 105, and its price can grow significantly from today’s level of 7 cents.
On the other hand, as InvestorPlace’s Will Ashworth recently argued, Ankr’s esoteric nature is exactly why it’s not one of the best “up-and-coming” cryptos. In his view, you may have better luck with the scores of names with a higher market capitalization.
Ankr’s odds of hitting the big time may be murky. But given its potential to lead in the DeFi computing capacity niche, it could be a worthwhile high-risk crypto position.
Cryptos: BarnBridge (BOND)
BarnBridge is another DeFi platform trying to make for itself. In a nutshell, it’s the crypto world’s equivalent to mortgage-backed securities.
BarnBridge builds packages of existing blockchain yield products to offer different tranches to investors. The riskier tranche offers a higher yield, but carries a higher risk of capital loss. On the other hand, the less risky tranche has principal protection at the expense of the high-risk tranche, but receives a far lower yield.
BOND serves as the governance token for BarnBridge’s network. Token holders are compensated via protocol fees. Of course, like other altcoins such as Stellar Lumens (CCC:XLM-USD), network growth may not help BarnBridge’s coin price. The platform may take yield-farming to the next level, but limited opportunities to use BOND can lessen its potential for long-term gains.
So why should you still consider BarnBridge? The total value of BOND’s supply may not become worth hundreds of billions, or even tens of billions. But its maximum supply of 10 million coins would be worth $310 million at today’s price of $31. It’s not far-fetched to think the altcoin could one day trade for 10x, or even 20x, what it goes for today.
This crypto’s focus on sports fan tokens may sound too much like the fast-fading NFT (non-fungible token) craze. But that doesn’t mean Chiliz — and Socios.com, the platform it powers — are at risk of fizzling out anytime soon.
Things may have gotten too frothy, too fast with NFTs, which are basically the crypto world’s answer to collectables and fine art. Yet fan token usage is just warming up. Socio.com has already partnered with over 100 sports teams, including several European soccer teams. The platform is just starting to build out U.S. operations, and a major deal with U.S. sports leagues could be its next big leap.
CHZ’s price zoomed from 5 cents to a high of 89 cents during the crypto bubble earlier this year. Since reaching its high, it’s dropped over 70% to around 25 cents. As with other altcoins, it could take time for Chiliz to hit its past highs again.
In the meantime, high volatility may be the name of the game. But with its recent listing on Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) and the long-term potential for sports fan tokenization, CHZ’s value can climb many times over.
Cryptos: EOS (EOS)
Some rising altcoin stars have a prominent “whale” backing them. For example, Mark Cuban endorsed Polygon. But EOS, developed by Block.One, has two big “whales” behind it: Mike Novogratz and Peter Thiel.
But that’s not the only factor on its side. The platform is designed for dApps and boasts the same advantages as larger “Ethereum Killers,” including scalability, speed and low transaction fees. This platform, and its EOS token, could feasibly take off in the future.
Of course, there’s a reason its total market capitalization currently stands at $3.5 billion, a far cry from the tens of billions the top “killers” sport. EOS has the technology, but not the user base — at least, not yet. That’s the big risk here, but it’s also a big opportunity.
EOS currently trades for about $3.65 today, down from highs nearing $15. If it fails to catch on, it won’t be long before the price falls even lower. But if it coaxes dApp and DeFi developers onto its platform, EOS could become an altcoin front-runner and its price could soar beyond its highs.
Hedera Hashgraph (HBAR)
Much like the other under-the-radar cryptos discussed here, Hedera Hashgraph skyrocketed when blockchain was too hot to touch. But since May’s meltdown, its price has experienced big declines. Its chance at a comeback remains highly uncertain.
First off, what is Hedera Hashgraph? As its name implies, it’s a hashgraph-based system, not a blockchain platform. Much like Holo, its use of alternative ledger technology sets it apart and could be key to its long-term success.
Hedera Hashgraph’s technology could make it a major platform in this fast-growing space. Key features include transaction speeds of 10,000 per second, super-low fees and a low carbon footprint. Also, its list of partnerships reads like a “Who’s Who” of global business. Major companies like Boeing (NYSE:BA), Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google and IBM (NYSE:IBM) are on the platform’s governance council. This could help Hedera Hashgraph rise from obscurity to ubiquity sooner rather than later.
Admittedly, these factors don’t guarantee HBAR’s success. It could just as easily fail to launch. But after its post-meltdown slide to about 18 cents, the possible long-term upside exceeds its downside risk. Entering a position today could prove to be a profitable move in hindsight.
Cryptos: Holo (HOT)
Like Hedera Hashgraph, Holo is another “not a blockchain” crypto. Its alternative to distributed ledger technology is an even more decentralized method that uses individual nodes to log transactions.
Why is this important? This technology can give dApp developers more autonomy, making it a key factor for the network to gain critical mass.
Holo also meets the same criteria as other Ethereum competitors: it’s scalable, fast and has low transaction fees. But while these factors may give it a shot at crypto fame, Holochain’s work is still cut out for it. And there’s no guarantee it will move out of obscurity and toward the top of the crypto heap.
On the other hand, Holo’s low probability of success is already reflected in its current price. With a market capitalization of $1 billion and a price less than a penny, HOT could have a tremendous runway if it ever takes off.
It’s a long-shot for sure, but Holo stands out among under-the-radar cryptos. Keep this one top of mind when you consider a speculative crypto buy.
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On the date of publication, Thomas Niel held long positions in Bitcoin and Ethereum. He did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in any other securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.