Multitude of Coins
There are literally thousands of copy-cat crypto currencies. Bitcoin is built under the auspices of open-source software, hence, the computer code that comprises the system is freely available to inspect, improve or copy. Using an existing open source project to start a new project (coin) is called a “fork.” The initial forks of Bitcoin (first fork was Lite Coin) made minor changes to the functioning of the software before releasing it to the public and starting a new coin. There are literally thousands of crypto assets (coins) most of which are scams. More importantly there are a few coins that have chosen names almost identical to Bitcoin. These coins are frauds and their creators are riding on the popularity of Bitcoin to scam wealth from the general population. So exercise caution when investigating Bitcoin and make sure that the acronym representing Bitcoin is BTC.
The Ethereum project was NOT a fork of Bitcoin but a more ambitious effort to create a new kind of blockchain that would serve as a world computer. Ethereum (Ether coin) is a self-described, “smart contract” blockchain that allows for complex financial transactions to be settled on the ethereum blockchain. One of Ethereum’s early smart contracts allowed for anyone to create their own crypto currency (their own coin) by implementing just a few lines of code in a smart contract. This gave way to an avalanche of new coins issued as ICO’s (Initial Coin Offerings). Most of the coins (not all) were scam coins created only to enrich their creators. In the Bitcoin community, any coin other than Bitcoin is referred to as a “shitcoin” and these coins are seen as counter to the advancement of the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) movement.
There are those in the Bitcoin community who think that the future of money will be largely a Bitcoin only world seeing that Bitcoin can be a store of value, unit of exchange as well as its ability to execute semi-complex smart contracts. Others believe that there will be other successful coins (blockchains) of varying utility, speed and security that will emerge as important underpinnings to the blossoming Decentralized Finance movement. I tend to align myself with the latter.