Five Altcoins You Need to Buy in 2020

Ah, yes. A new year’s upon us and everybody wants to know what crypto they should buy.

Why do they ask?

I think we both know the answer to that question.

Nobody has ever asked me about the potential social and economic impact of cryptographically-secure, time-stamped distributed ledgers.

(Which stinks, because I wrote a book, Consensusland, exploring that very topic.)

Nope. Everybody wants to know what’s the quickest, easiest way to get rich.

Fortunately, I love guessing games and I have a few answers for you! Read on for some interesting altcoins you may want to check into.

Want a different perspective? Read the list from,
10 Best (and Safest) Cryptocurrencies to Invest in Right Now

Disclaimer—I hold small amounts of these cryptocurrencies. For some, I also use the related blockchain.

VeChain Thor (VET)

VET is the token of the VeChain Thor enterprise blockchain. If you use this blockchain, you protect your products from fraud, loss, theft, and counterfeiting as you move them around the world.

Yes, VeChain recently got hacked.

No matter. It was an inside job and the VeChain team blacklisted the funds (effectively freezing the loot). VeChain’s blockchain was never compromised.

If this failure doesn’t scare customers away, it should show people that VeChain offers a secure way to move assets. Nobody lost money, blockchain tracked all funds, and some will get recovered. More than you can say for similar events in the non-blockchain world.

Unlike most altcoins, VeChain has actual users—Walmart China, DNV TL, Norway in a Box, Haier, big Chinese wine importer Direct Imported Goods (DIG), and others. The city of Shanghai uses VeChain to ensure its vaccines are not tampered with.

Keep in mind, you do not use VeChain’s VET token on the blockchain. You need VET to generate VTHO, a secondary token for payments, votes, and smart contracts.

As VeChain continues to grow, businesses will need to buy VET to produce that valuable VHTO. It’s their ticket to the blockchain.

VeChain’s network activity continues to rise month after month. While that doesn’t mean the price of VET will go up, it shows interest and usage of the platform continues to grow. Compare that to the 99% of other alts with no activity and vague partnerships that seem to go nowhere.

(Note, VET tokens also offer other benefits that aren’t worth getting into here.)

Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX)

Woldwide Asset eXchange is a global decentralized marketplace for virtual assets. You use WAX tokens to buy and sell digital goods and gaming items, including in-game currencies.

WAX has two interesting twists on a traditional online market. Because of those twists, it offers something unique and distinct from platforms like World of Warcraft or OPskins.

First, it supports businesses that want to set up their own version of digital goods factories. They can build their businesses on WAX’s blockchain and never need to spend money on security, infrastructure, or payment processing (WAX’s blockchain does all that for them).

Second, it offers strong incentives to stake WAX on its network. This means avid gamers and developers benefit directly from WAX’s growth. It gives them “skin in the game” which should grow stronger as the platform grows.

Basic Attention Token (BAT)

BAT is a token you can use to buy people’s attention when they’re browsing the internet using the fast, private Brave browser.

This solves a big problem for online advertisers: ads that never get viewed.

With BAT, advertisers pay users to view their ads. It’s a direct exchange, no middlemen, no spoofing, and guaranteed eyeballs. Plus, nobody sees your personal data (unlike almost every other browser you use). Instead, advertisers get anonymous, encrypted data without markers or trackers.

Because of how BAT is engineered, it creates an alternative revenue model for people who make YouTube videos, write blogs, or create web content of any kind. These content creators can collect BAT directly from viewers or advertisers in a seamless experience—no separate payment systems, no need to give up private information, no cuts or fees for payment processing. I do this for my blog (and my site doesn’t even have ads!)

Also, as you use the Brave browser, you collect tiny amounts of BAT for viewing ads while you surf the web. Over time, these small amounts accumulate to real money you can either use or cash out with the embedded Uphold wallet. If you don’t want ads, you can turn them off.

You can also pay your favorite content providers with BAT, making it possible for you to have a bit (or a lot) of financial influence on the people you see online. And, content creators can use BAT to more easily run promotions and giveaways.

Over time, you will eventually see millions of users with small amounts of BAT in their wallets, plus advertisers demanding access to people who use Brave.

If those users keep their BAT within that ecosystem and advertisers put more money into that ecosystem, BAT’s price will go up, probably a lot. After all, Brave has only 10 million active users—not even enough to crack a top-10 list. It has plenty of room to grow.

Holochain (HOT)

Holochain is different than traditional data-driven blockchains and somewhat experimental. It’s basically a network of independent agents who maintain their own records and communicate with each other as needed.

Theoretically, the Holo network enables infinitely-scalable, decentralized applications and smart contracts run by a network of independent nodes that can process lots of transactions by themselves.

As a result, anybody can create a dApp with certainty it will work across the network and never get bogged down by fees, latency, and other problems that plague blockchains. Developers can set their own fees and interact with every other dApp built within the Holochain ecosystem. As their dApps grow, they can expand their processing capacity.


It’s an entirely different architecture than anything that exists. It doesn’t even use cryptocurrency. Your Holo tokens (HOT) essentially buy a claim on HoloFuel, the shared computing power that runs the Holo network.

If that makes any sense.

Sometime this year, Holochain says they will release the network from beta testing. At that point, you can redeem your HOT tokens. Watch the roadmap and sign up for updates from the team.

To be fair, HOT is among the most speculative investments in a totally speculative market. It’s an open-source framework for distributed hosting using HoloFuel—a totally new way to exchange value within a network. As such, it’s hard to know whether you’re getting cutting edge, ground-breaking technology or a fancy idea that won’t work out. (Time will tell.)

MakerDAO (MKR)

MakerDAO is a decentralized version of a bank. No tellers, managers, or board of directors. Everything’s run by smart contracts and distributed governance among stakeholders.

The system relies on two tokens: MKR and DAI. MKR is like a lending reserve, DAI is a stablecoin.

To oversimplify, you lock up some crypto in a smart contract and get DAI in return. You keep your crypto and get to pay back the DAI whenever you want. No monthly payments.

While lose control of your crypto, you never lose ownership. Once you repay the DAI, you get your crypto back. If your collateral gets too low, MakerDAO sells off some of your crypto to cover the loan.

Everything’s regulated by smart contract.

This sets DAI apart from USDT, BUSD, USDC, and pretty much every other stablecoin. Those coins need a business to guarantee you can access your funds. DAI does not—the system is self-sustaining, like bitcoin.

As a result, nobody can confiscate your DAI or block your transactions.

Each time somebody takes out a loan, a little MKR gets burned. Supply goes down as demand goes up, forever.

On top of that, DAI’s stable price means you can use it for daily commerce without worrying about whether it will lose or gain value in the future. Only the MKR token changes value.

MakerDAO challenges a lot of conventional notions around finance and raises lots of interesting regulatory, social, and governance questions. Read more in my Quora answer: Which is the best crypto for this upcoming bull season?

Please no bitcoin sidechains trying to do MakerDAO

MKR could serve as a global reserve for all sorts of decentralized financial technology (DeFi). In fact, it’s so promising that bitcoin developers created a sidechain to do the same thing.

Personally, I believe bitcoin needs to stay out of DeFi. It’s brilliant, simple, and incredibly valuable—I’d hate to see it get dragged into the very chaotic, sticky, complicated world of finance.

Bitcoin is your hedge against modern finance. Nobody can vote away your bitcoin or inflate it into oblivion, yet both risks exist in DeFi.

DeFi has lots of potential but far more challenges. Keep it away from bitcoin.

You could lose all your money

While these projects all offer huge upside, they all come with big question marks. For example, take a look at what I said about MKR in that Quora answer I link to above. In that answer, I raise some very serious, fundamental concerns that we will all have to address eventually.

In this post, I gave you a very, very brief summary of five complicated, experimental financial networks. You owe it to yourself to dig deeper. All five of these projects have real potential to fail. None offer you any way to recover your losses.

Would you like me to do a “deep dive” into an altcoin? I’ll do it if enough people ask. Email me at or tweet @mkhelfman.

2020 should make for an interesting year in crypto. Relax and enjoy the ride!

Mark Helfman is a top writer on Medium for cryptocurrency, finance, and bitcoin topics. His book, Consensusland, explores the social, cultural, and business challenges of a fictional country that runs on cryptocurrency. In a past life, he worked for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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