12 Best Layer 1 Crypto Projects of 2024 – The Leaders of Blockchain

Why Trust Techopedia Crypto
Why Trust Techopedia Crypto

The role of layer 1 crypto coins in the cryptocurrency world is fundamental, providing the framework for blockchain networks and offering scalability, security, and decentralization.

As we look towards 2024, understanding the dynamics of these platforms becomes crucial for investors seeking the potential for growth in the crypto sector.

This article lists the best layer 1 crypto projects of 2024, looking into their unique features and the benefits they offer.

Layer 1 Crypto List

For anyone interested in layer 1 projects, here’s a short layer 1 blockchain list:

  1. Bitcoin (BTC): The world’s first and largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, Bitcoin remains the best layer 1 project. Bitcoin has a limited supply of just 21 million tokens, making it ideal as a store of value. Bitcoin will enter its next halving event in April 2024, which could spurn an extended bull run. Bitcoin is also expected to get its first ETF approval from the SEC.
  2. Ethereum (ETH): Thousands of secondary tokens operate on the Ethereum blockchain, making it the most popular layer 1 blockchain for developers. Ethereum has it all, from metaverses and play-to-earn games to decentralized finance ecosystems. Although Ethereum is trading with a huge market capitalization, many analysts believe it’s worth just a fraction of its future potential.
  3. Solana (SOL): This layer 1 blockchain offers a great alternative to Ethereum, especially when it comes to speed, cost-effectiveness, and scalability. Solana can handle smart contracts and decentralized applications without compromising on security or energy efficiency.
  4. BNB (BNB): Backing the world’s largest crypto ecosystem, BNB is Binance’s layer 1 blockchain. It’s required to settle transaction fees on the BNB chain and offers a 25% discount on Binance commissions. BNB is a deflationary layer 1 project; Binance frequently removes tokens from the circulating supply. Investors can buy BNB today at a 66% discount from all-time highs.
  5. Ripple (XRP): This layer 1 blockchain facilitates cross-currency transactions for financial institutions. XRP provides a bridge of liquidity in real-time, ensuring it has solid long-term utility. Ripple is used by some of the world’s largest banks, meaning it could eventually replace the SWIFT network. XRP is up 60% in the prior 12 months but is 84% down from its all-time high.
  6. Cosmos (ATOM): Launched in 2019, Cosmos has developed the Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol. This enables competing blockchains to communicate and share data; without centralized providers. ATOM is the layer 1 cryptocurrency backing Cosmos. It’s currently trading 78% below prior all-time highs. ATOM has a market capitalization of over $3.7 billion.
  7. Avalanche (AVAX): A layer 1 blockchain network claiming to achieve infinite scalability, Avalanche offers almost instant transaction confirmations. Avalanche also enables ERC-20 projects to bridge to its network; collecting 0.025% of the bridged amount. Its native cryptocurrency, AVAX, is trading 85% below its 2021 all-time high.
  8. Cronos (CRO): Backing the Crypto.com exchange, Cronos is a layer 1 blockchain with high scalability and low fees. The Cronos network supports smart contracts and dApps, with transaction fees paid in CRO tokens. Crucially, CRO gets you exposure to the Crypto.com exchange, which aims to increase its market share during the next bull run.
  9. Stellar (XLM): Launched in 2014, Stellar is a layer 1 blockchain that supports fast, cheap, and scalable cross-border transactions. It has partnered with IBM, MoneyGram, and other prominent entities for this purpose. XML is the project’s native cryptocurrency – currently valued at $3.4 billion. An all-time high discount of 86% is available for those investing today.
  10. Polkadot (DOT): Another top-rated layer 1 blockchain that’s spearheading network interoperability, Polkadot wants to become the ‘blockchain of blockchains’ for the Web 3.0 era. One of the most energy-efficient layer 1 protocols, Polkadot has a market capitalization of almost $8 billion. DOT, its native token, is down 90% from its all-time high.
  11. Kaspa (KAS): One of the fastest-growing cryptocurrencies, Kaspa is up over 7,000% since it was launched in July 2022. On a 12-month basis, this layer 1 cryptocurrency has increased by over 1,800%. Kaspa uses the proof-of-work model but confirms transactions in seconds.
  12. Sei (SEI): This is a new layer 1 project that was launched in August 2023. Sei has increased by over 3,400% since, making it one of the top-performing cryptocurrencies this year. The Sei blockchain can handle up to 20,000 transactions per second, with a finality speed of 380 milliseconds.

Best Layer 1 Crypto Projects – Full Analysis

The sections below will help you understand the long-term potential of each layer 1 cryptocurrency listed above. Read on to discover the best layer 1 tokens for your investment portfolio.

1. Bitcoin (BTC): The Overall Best Layer 1 Blockchain for Long-Term Investors

While the short-term upside might be more modest when compared to other cryptocurrencies, we still rank Bitcoin as the overall best option. This is the original layer 1 blockchain that was launched in 2009. Bitcoin has the largest market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies. And at its peak, was valued at over $1.4 trillion.

This was when Bitcoin was trading at highs of almost $69,000. Bitcoin dropped below the $16,000 level last year but has since recovered to over $51,000.

Bitcoin price chart

There’s a lot of bullish sentiment surrounding Bitcoin right now.  For a start, analysts predict that the first Bitcoin ETF will be approved by the SEC in 2024. This could open the floodgates to huge waves of institutional investment.

Just as notable is Bitcoin’s next halving event; estimated to occur in April 2024. This will reduce the 10-minute supply of new Bitcoins by 50%, down to 3.125 BTC. Ultimately, while some analysts believe Bitcoin could breach $100,000 next year, this could be just the start. Therefore, we’re confident that Bitcoin is one of the top layer 1 crypto projects for long-term holders.

2. Ethereum (ETH): The Most Popular Layer 1 Blockchain With dApp Developers 

Ethereum is the most popular layer 1 crypto project with decentralized application (dApp) developers and one of the most highly-rated Bitcoin alternatives. Although most are inactive, there are hundreds of thousands of secondary tokens on the Ethereum network. Those that are active represent some of the largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. This includes metaverses like the Sandbox, Axie Infinity, and Decentraland.

Ethereum also hosts some of the best decentralized exchanges, including Uniswap and Sushiswap. Decentralized finance platforms also favor Ethereum, whether that’s Aave, Yearn.finance, or Compound. Crucially, every project on the Ethereum network pays transaction fees in ETH, ensuring the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency remains in strong demand.

Ethereum price chart

Although Ethereum is facing increased competition from other layer 1 blockchains, it still dominates the vast majority of the dApp markets. After all, Ethereum was the first smart contract platform to launch, giving it a huge first-mover advantage. In terms of valuation, Ethereum currently has a market capitalization of over $350 billion.

It’s now trading above $2,900, which is higher than 12 months prior. However, like most top layer 1 blockchains, Ethereum still trades at an attractive discount. Those investing today will pay 58% below its all-time high of nearly $5,000. Considering BlackRock recently filled an Ethereum ETF application with the SEC, this could be the start of the next bull run.

3. Solana (SOL): One of the Fastest Layer 1 Blockchains to Invest in 

Solana is the best layer 1 crypto project for long-term investors. The key question being asked by analysts is whether Solana will ever take a significant market share from Ethereum. According to CoinMarketCap data, there are just 218 cryptocurrencies in the Solana ecosystem. In contrast, Ethereum has many thousands.

What’s more, most Solana-based projects are micro-cap cryptocurrencies with limited trading volume. All that being said, Solana is the better layer 1 blockchain when it comes to performance. This is a crucial metric, as dApp developers want the fastest and most efficient blockchain for their projects.

Solana price chart

While Ethereum can handle approximately 30 transactions per second, Solana has managed over 65,000 during the testing phase. This makes it a lot more suitable for handling large transactional throughput. Solana is also a lot cheaper than Ethereum, The average transaction fee costs the SOL equivalent of just $0.00025.

So what is the upside potential of Solana? Right now, Solana is one of the best-performing cryptocurrencies. SOL tokens have increased by over 360% in the prior 12 months. Since SOL was launched in early 2020, the tokens have increased by over 7,300%. You can, however, still enter the market at a huge discount; Solana is trading now at $102.07.

4. BNB (BNB): Layer 1 Blockchain Backed Supporting the Binance Ecosystem 

The third largest layer 1 cryptocurrency by market capitalization, BNB is also worth considering. This blockchain network supports the Binance ecosystem. Just like Ethereum and Solana, the BNB Chain supports smart contracts and dApps. There are thousands of projects operating on BNB, known as BEP-20 tokens.

BNB is the transactional token required by BEP-20 projects when settling fees. BNB also has use cases on the Binance exchange; it offers a 25% discount on standard trading commissions. BNB is a deflationary layer 1 cryptocurrency too. This is because Binance frequently burns BNB tokens, meaning they’re removed from the circulating supply.

BNB price chart

In terms of price action, BNB is up over 20,000% since it was launched in late 2017. That said, BNB has declined by 20% over the prior 12 months. Moreover, BNB is currently $376.90, which is approximately 46% lower from its prior all-time high of over $690. Ultimately, Binance is the largest crypto exchange for trading volume, so BNB offers exposure to its growth.

5. Ripple (XRP): Layer 1 Payment Network for Cross-Currency Transactions  

Ripple is one of the original layer 1 blockchains; the network was launched in 2012. The technology is aimed at large financial institutions that need to transact internationally. Ripple streamlines the process, with cross-border transfers taking under five seconds to process.

Moreover, fees typically cost less than a cent, and the network can handle up to 1,500 transactions per second. Ripple is particularly useful for cross-currency transactions, especially when transferring funds to emerging countries. Its native cryptocurrency, XRP, provides liquidity in real time.

XRP price today

This means that financial institutions no longer need to use SWIFT, which typically relies on correspondent banking networks. With some of the world’s largest banks already using Ripple, XRP is one of the best layer 1 crypto projects to consider. The price of XRP in February of 2024 is $0.5359.

6. Cosmos (ATOM): Inter-Blockchain Communication Allowing Layer 1 Networks to Share Data  

Cosmos is a layer 1 crypto project that developed the Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol. In simple terms, this enables two or more blockchain networks to share data without using centralized providers. For example, consider Kava and Cronos, which specialize in decentralized finance and exchange services, respectively.

The two blockchains operate independently, meaning they have their own consensus methods and underlying code. Ordinarily, the Kava and Cronos blockchains wouldn’t be able to communicate. However, when deploying the Cosmos protocol, Kava and Cronos would be able to share data in real-time. This means the use cases for Cosmos are extensive.

Cosmos price today

Cosmos has a native layer 1 cryptocurrency, ATOM. It’s required when using the Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol. ATOM has a market capitalization of over $3.8 billion. Growth has been modest; ATOM is up just 52% since 2019. What’s more, ATOM is down 78% from its all-time high price of almost $45.

7. Avalanche (AVAX): High-Performance Layer 1 Network With Infinite Scalability

Avalanche is another high-performance blockchain aiming to chip away at Ethereum’s market share. It claims to offer ‘infinite scalability’, meaning it can handle an unlimited number of transactions without compromising on security. It also offers near-instant transactions, making it ideal for smart contracts and dApps.

Another feature of Avalanche is its ability to support ERC-20 projects. Avalanche charges 0.025% of the bridged amount at a minimum of $3. According to CoinMarketCap, 282 projects have already bridged to Avalanche, including Tether, Chainlink, Dai, SushiSwap, and Frax.

Avalanche price chart

When it comes to price performance, Avalanche is up 63%. While this is below the industry average, Avalanche is trading 85% below its 2021 all-time high. Therefore, investors can secure an attractive discount before the next altcoin season arrives. Avalanche has a market capitalization of just over $13 billion, so there is still plenty of room for growth.

8. Cronos (CRO): Crypto.com’s Layer 1 Network Trading at a 90% Discount

Launched in November 2021, Cronos is one of the new layer 1 blockchain projects to enter the market. It achieves scalability, low transaction fees, and can host smart contracts and dApps. That being said, Cronos is best known for its association with Crypto.com. Considered one of the best crypto exchanges, Crypto.com offers some of the lowest trading commissions in the market.

Crypto.com has processed over $1 billion in trading volume. This is just a small fraction of the $18 billion traded on Binance. However, considering that Binance was recently fined $4 billion for money laundering offenses, Crypto.com will be confident it can increase its market share. Therefore, those investing in the Cronos blockchain will gain exposure to Crypto.com’s growth.

Cronos price chart

Cronos’s native cryptocurrency, CRO, is currently valued at just $2.4 billion. In contrast, Binance’s BNB is worth over $35 billion. Over the prior 12 months of trading, CRO tokens have increased by 42%. However, they’re trading 90% below all-time highs, which presents a solid discount.

9. Stellar (XLM): Established Cross-Border Payments Network for Individuals and Corporations

Stellar is an open-sourced layer 1 blockchain that uses the proof-of-agreement consensus mechanism. Not only is Stellar energy-efficient, but it also offers lightning-fast confirmation times and it one of the highly rated low-cost coins. Averaging under 5-6 seconds, Stellar also offers low fees and can scale up to 1,500 transactions per second.

Stellar aims to become the de facto payment network for global remittances, subsequently “banking the unbanked”. That said, it also enables corporations to process cheap cross-border transactions. It has already partnered with IBM, MoneyGram, and other well-known entities for this purpose. XLM, which launched in 2014, is the project’s native cryptocurrency.

Stellar XLM price chart

XLM has gone through several bull and bear cycles. Nonetheless, the tokens are up 4,000% since inception. Those buying XLM today will secure an 86% discount when compared to prior all-time highs. XLM has a market capitalization of $3.2 billion.

10. Polkadot (DOT): Spearheading Interoperability for the Web 3.0m Era 

Polkadot is another layer 1 blockchain that specializes in interoperability. Its proprietary network aims to connect competing blockchains for the Web 3.0 era. This means that cross-blockchain transfers can take place while remaining decentralized. Polkadot achieves this with high efficiency levels.

Through its nominated proof-of-stake consensus model, the Polkadot blockchain uses the equivalent energy of 6.6 US households. Polkadot’s native layer 1 token, DOT, has three main functions. At its core, DOT is a governance token, enabling holders to vote on protocol upgrades and fixes. Second, DOT is also one of the best staking coins.

Polkadot price

Third, DOT is used for ‘bonding’, which is what facilitates cross-blockchain transactions. According to CoinMarketCap, Polkadot has a market capitalization of over $9.4 billion. DOT tokens haven’t budged in the prior 12 months, with a slight loss of under 1%. Based on current prices, DOT is trading at a 90% discount from its all-time high.

11. Kaspa (KAS): Proof-of-Work Consensus Model With Single-Second Confirmation Times

Kaspa is one of the fastest-growing cryptocurrencies in 2024. Over the prior 12 months of trading, its native token, KAS, has increased by over 1,800%. Since KAS was launched in July 2022, the tokens are up over 7,600%.

That said, Kaspa is valued at just $3 billion, so its upward trajectory could continue as we move into the bull market. Furthermore, there’s a slight discount of 8% available when compared to its prior all-time high. In terms of utility, Kaspa is a layer 1 blockchain that uses the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism.

Kaspa price chart

However, unlike other PoW networks – like Bitcoin, transaction speeds are lightning-fast. Kaspa transactions are usually processed in seconds without compromising security. One of Kaspa’s main objectives is to increase scalability on a global basis. It currently handles one block confirmation per second, but this will be amplified over time.

12. Sei (SEI): New Layer 1 Cryptocurrency With 3,400% Growth Since August 2023

Sei is one of the top trending cryptocurrencies to watch as we move into 2024. Crucially, this is one of the newest layer 1 blockchains in the market. According to CoinMarketCap, Sei launched its native cryptocurrency, SEI, in August 2023.

Since launching, SEI tokens have increased by over 3,400%. In the prior month alone, SEI has increased by 137%. All that being said, SEI has a market capitalization of just over $2.1 million. Considering that the other layer 1 blockchains discussed today have multi-billion dollar valuations, this offers a solid entry point for new investors.

SEI token price chart

So why is Sei so popular right now? Put simply, this layer 1 network can handle up to 20,000 transactions per second. It can achieve transaction finality in just 380 milliseconds. What’s more, the network has tested over 100 million transactions to date with supreme efficiency.

The Basics of Layer 1 Cryptocurrencies

In simple terms, layer 1 cryptocurrencies operate on a proprietary blockchain network. They have a unique underlying code and their own consensus mechanism. From an investment perspective, layer 1 cryptocurrencies are an attractive proposition.

After all, a very small percentage of active cryptocurrencies are considered layer 1. In contrast, the vast majority of tokens operate on a secondary network. For example, consider that more than 450,000 tokens are built on the Ethereum blockchain. This includes Decentraland, Dai, the Sandbox, and Tether.

These secondary tokens, which follow the ERC-20 standard, have no say in how the Ethereum blockchain operates. Therefore, any changes made by Ethereum – whether positive or negative, will directly impact how ERC-20 tokens function.

Difference Between Layer 1 and Layer 2 Blockchains

Blockchain terminology can be confusing. Here’s a quick overview of how layer 1 and 2 blockchains differ:

  • Layer 1 Blockchains: Layer 1 blockchains are the foundation of a decentralized network. They handle all aspects of the blockchain, including consensus mechanisms, security, and transaction processing. Examples of layer 1 blockchains include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, and BNB.
  • Layer 2 Blockchains: Layer 2 blockchains are designed to improve on Layer 1 shortcomings. This often means increased scalability, cheaper fees, and faster transactions. For example, Polygon is a layer 2 solution for the best ERC-20 tokens, ensuring projects can operate more efficiently.  Layer 2 networks can also help layer 1 cryptocurrencies increase their use cases, such as supporting smart contracts and dApps.

Both layer 1 and 2 blockchains serve a purpose in the broader crypto market. However, ultimately, layer 1 networks are viewed more favorably by long-term investors.

Benefits of Investing in the Best Layer 1 Cryptocurrencies

Let’s explore some of the key benefits of investing in layer 1 cryptocurrencies:

  • Invest in Original Blockchain Networks: Layer 1 cryptocurrencies allow you to invest directly in an ‘original’ blockchain network. For example, you’ll be investing in Ethereum rather than secondary ERC-20 tokens that do not have their own framework.
  • Layer 1 Cryptocurrencies Make Their Own Decisions: Layer 1 cryptocurrencies are in full control of their destiny. This is because they can make key network changes or improvements. Secondary projects, such as ERC-20 or BEP-20 tokens, have no say in how the network is run.
  • Many Successful Cryptocurrencies are Layer 1: Some of the most successful cryptocurrencies have layer 1 blockchains. Over time, layer 1 projects are more attractive to investors, which is reflected in their valuation. For example, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP are collectively worth over a trillion dollars.
  • Networks Can Generate Income From Secondary Tokens: Many top layer 1 blockchains allow secondary projects to operate on their networks. This means that layer 1 cryptocurrencies can generate income from transaction fees. For example, BEP-20 tokens must pay network fees in BNB, which increases demand.
  • Holders Often Have a Say in Governance: Those holding layer 1 cryptocurrencies often have a say in key governance proposals. This makes the network more democratic, as changes can only be made if the community agrees.

Methodology

How We Analyze and Review Cryptocurrencies

1000+ Crypto Assets Reviewed

300+ Research Hours

14 Key Variables Evaluated

50+ Expert Opinions Examined

To ensure our readers receive unbiased, thorough, and reliable information, we conduct extensive research and analysis of a wide range of cryptocurrencies. We assess each crypto asset based on 14 distinct criteria, some of which include:

  • Market Potential: We evaluate the likelihood of future growth and the overall potential within the crypto market.
  • Liquidity and Trading Volume: We analyze the ease of buying and selling cryptocurrencies and their trading activity.
  • Community and Support: We examine the level of community engagement and the quality of support available to users.
  • Price History and Market Sentiment: We review historical price data and current market sentiment.
  • Security Measures and Past Breaches: We check for strong security protocols and any history of security breaches

By following this thorough approach, we provide comprehensive and reliable reviews tailored to the needs of crypto enthusiasts and investors alike.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the significance of layer 1 cryptos cannot be overstated, providing a framework for various applications and assets. Our review of the best layer 1 crypto projects emphasizes the reasons behind their popularity, as well as their potential for profitable investments.

However, we must note that the crypto market is highly volatile, therefore, thorough research should be done before investing in any crypto asset.

References

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Sam Cooling
Crypto & Blockchain Writer
Sam Cooling
Crypto & Blockchain Writer

Sam Cooling is a crypto, financial, and business journalist based in London. Along with Techopedia, his work has been published in Yahoo Finance, Coin Rivet, and other leading publications in the financial space. His interest in cryptocurrency is driven by a passion for leveraging decentralized blockchain technologies to empower marginalized communities worldwide. This includes enhancing financial transparency, providing banking services to the unbanked, and improving agricultural supply chains. Sam has a Master’s Degree in Development Management from the London School of Economics and has worked as a Junior Research Fellow for the UK Defence Academy.