Last week marked a momentous occasion in the history of the cryptocurrency market, but this one wasn't exactly cause for celebration. After an investigation lasting almost six months, a record $4.3 billion pre-court settlement was reached between Binance and the US Securities and Exchange Commission that included the departure of former CEO Changpeng Zhao amid pending money laundering charges. The recent past has been a bit of an eye-opener for crypto investors following the FTX scandal and a number of fines for celebrities backing dubious altcoins.
But it's not all doom and gloom. There's hope that this gargantuan fine will prove a watershed moment for the industry that sees the proper application of AML and KYC regulations and the eventual elevation of cryptocurrencies to an asset class on par with equities and forex.
As we prepare for a raft of spot Bitcoin ETF approvals in early 2024, the original cryptocurrency is currently eyeing a move up to the key level of $40,000 as bears and bulls battle over its next move. With a massive hash rate of over 500 exahash, miners clearly feel confident that the uptrend that has already seen BTC gain almost 130% YTD will continue. But as has already become clear since Bitcoin's institutional adoption, the biggest movements in any crypto bull cycle now tend to come in the altcoin space. With this in mind, we'll be looking at the top three alternative coins to watch in 2024 as we attempt to predict what factors will drive or restrain their growth in the New Year.
As a recent but revolutionary blockchain platform with a focus on security, scalability, and sustainability, Cardano has been garnering significant attention from crypto aficionados in recent years. With its strong smart contract capabilities, we can expect this altcoin to do well as such technology becomes more widely used in the financial industry. ADA has already gained over 54% since the start of this year, which, while significantly less than Bitcoin, is still impressive and leaves plenty of room for additional growth in 2024. Crypto Capital Ventures founder Dan Gambardello, for instance, predicts ADA's market cap could reach $400 billion by 2025 when it believes its price could rise as high as $11. Despite having an inflationary mechanism, Cardano's PoS Ouroboros protocol makes it a provably secure platform. Coupled with its longstanding commitment to scientific research and peer-reviewed protocols, this is likely to help boost its credibility and adoption in the growing smart contract space. A break above $0.40 will allow it to break into a bullish channel and should pave the way for further growth.
As a multi-chain platform enabling different blockchains to interoperate and share information, Polkadot's unique chain-based design has caught the eye of both investors and insiders for its scalability and innovation. Despite only launching in 2020, it's already managed to rise to 15th in CoinMarketCap's rankings, amassing total capital of over $6 billion in its short history. And while it has only gained a comparatively paltry 25% YTD, this only tells half the story. A dip in the middle of the year saw the coin drop to as low as $3.63 in October, and so its current price of $5.38 (as of 29/11) actually represents a nearly 50% gain in the space of one calendar month. As DeFi becomes increasingly popular in 2024 and beyond, we can expect Polkadot's demand to grow steadily on account of its highly functional relay and para chain model coupled with its user-friendly interface. The technical analysis has DOT showing bullish indicators across the board, with Altfins scoring it a "Strong Up (9/10)" for both the short- and medium-term. If DOT can get above $6 in the near term, this will be good for its longer-term prospects.
Solana positively exploded onto the scene back in 2020 and was quickly tipped as an Ethereum killer. This high-performance blockchain platform, which was created for high-speed decentralised applications (dApps), is capable of up to 2,500 transactions per second. With the sixth-largest market cap, SOL is already attracting institutional interest despite its relative youth and firm altcoin status. In fact, in this month alone, Solana has witnessed institutional inflows of over $40 million. This is many times more than any other altcoin and more or less half of what Ethereum has attracted. And they don't call it smart money for nothing. SOL is up a massive 340% YTD, nearly triple the gains achieved by BTC over the same period. With huge potential in DeFi, smart contracts, and dApps, Solana definitely has a bright future. In terms of technical analysis, the Relative Strength Index (RSI) has moved above the neutral line into the bullish zone. What's more, the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) indicators also show a red bar recession, which would suggest waning bearishness. Longer-term prices are difficult to predict, but many analysts see SOL above $100 by 2025, which still leaves it plenty of room to its ATH of $258.78.
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