An altcoin is essentially any cryptocurrency that isn't Bitcoin. The term itself is meant to indicate an "alternative to Bitcoin," and became popular when Bitcoin inspired the creation and distribution of several other digital currencies. Today, there are thousands of altcoins for various uses, and this is a number that continues to grow exponentially every day.
Altcoins can be used for a variety of reasons. Many operate similar to Bitcoin and are used simply as an alternative, but others have specific uses for specific platforms, or operate slightly differently (for example, by utilizing a different proof-of-work protocol).
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