Cardano, KuCoin, Ripple: How the lesser-known crypto tokens fared in 2021

·4-min read
Cardano cryptocurrency logo displayed on a phone screen. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Cryptocurrency tokens lower down the market capitalisation rankings have made notable gains throughout 2021, such as Cardano (ADA-USD), KuCoin and Ripple (XRP-USD).

A cryptocurrency token with a low market capitalisation has much more room to manoeuvre and investors can hope for greater gains than the higher market cap offerings. such as ethereum (ETH-USD) and bitcoin (BTC-USD). However, lower market capitalisation tokens undergo more volatility than those cryptocurrencies at the top of the rankings. Many lesser-known crypto tokens, such as Cardano, KuCoin and Ripple, fared well in 2021.

Cardano began the year trading at $0.15 (£0.1), and it is now priced at $1.34. The coin is at position seven of the cryptocurrency rankings by market capitalisation. During the year, rival blockchain project Solana (SOL-USD) leap-frogged Cardano to now sit at fifth position. Since January 2021 to the present, Cardano has increased in value by nearly 10 times. The cryptocurrency hit an all-time-high of $3.10 on September 2.

Read more: Live crypto prices

The blockchain platform is still going through its rigorous development roadmap. The brainchild of developer Charles Hoskinson was created in 2015 and launched its testnet phase in 2017. It has progressed from its 'Shelley' era of development to the current 'Goguen' era, which allows the ability to deploy smart contracts on its blockchain. In all, Cardano will have to go through five eras of development before becoming a fully self-sustaining system. It is now only in its third era.

The two before this, the Byron and Shelly eras, were primarily focused on building a foundation and decentralisation. However, this has not stopped investors from buying into its native token called ADA which has increased in value by 940% in 2021.

BRAZIL - 2021/09/06: In this photo illustration the Cardano logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The Cardano logo seen displayed on a smartphone. Photo: Getty Images

However, there are doubts over Cardano's continued success through 2022 and 2023. The project will be delisted by eToro for its US customers from January 1, 2021. The trading platform cited regulatory concerns as the reason for their actions.

Read more: Do bitcoin charts foretell an impending crash in 2022?

Another project that has fared well in 2021 is the native token of the KuCoin centralised cryptocurrency exchange - the KCS offering. Kucoin, much like Binance, is also associated with a blockchain, the Kucoin Community Chain (KCC). Similar to the Binance Smart Chain (BSC), the KCC is a clone of the ethereum network, and not regarded as completely decentralised. However, the Kucoin token, KCS, has made significant gains in value throughout 2021.

Watch: How crypto-lobbyists are 'dictating terms in Washington'

The KCS token's current price is $21.44 - it began the year with a low of $0.70. This is in line with the growing popularity of the KuCoin exchange. The KuCoin exchange has become a popular trading venue for institutional blockchain projects such as the Kadena cryptocurrency.

The Ripple cryptocurrency project has also fared well in 2021. It identifies as a global payments network that utilises the XRP consensus ledger, which the company claims is faster, cheaper and greener than proof of work based consensus mechanisms that settle transactions. The Ripple token has been active since 2012 and goes by the listing XRP. The price of XRP rose from $0.43 in January 2021 to a value of $0.99 today. In the last seven days, Ripple has gained in value by 20%.

Representation of the Ripple payments network is seen in this illustration taken November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Representation of the Ripple payments network. Photo: Reuters

Ripple Labs is still recovering from the fallout after two of its leading executives were sued by the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2020. In late December 2020, the SEC charged Ripple and two of its executives with conducting the sale of a $1.3bn "unregistered, ongoing digital asset securities offering". It was reported by the SEC that the alleged sale of XRP tokens by Ripple executives was to raise capital to finance the company's business. Ripple is currently sitting in sixth place ranking by cryptocurrency market capitalisation. In 2022, the token could surpass its all-time-high of $3.84, achieved in August 2021.

Read more: Crypto scammers steal almost $8bn from investors in 2021

The development arm of the Ripple project, Ripple Labs, made strides throughout 2021 by progressing a Ripple-marketplace for financial firms to allow clients the ability to safely trade cryptocurrencies. Ripple avoids being associated with the more anarchic aspects of the crypto-sphere, such as decentralisation and the disintermediation of the banking system. Instead, Ripple snuggles close to several major banks, investment companies, and key financial organisations across the globe.

Watch: Big finance's move into crypto is unstoppable