Top 20 best-selling cryptos revealed: Retail investors ditched first generation of cryptos in 2021 and dove into metaverse and meme coins, according to one of the world’s biggest brokers

Crypto Barcroft Media
  • Broker eToro shared exclusive crypto data with Insider on what was hot and what was not in 2021.

  • eToro has a hefty 23 million users, so its open interest numbers can provide great insight.
  • Bitcoin held firmly to its number one ranking but most others rose or fell in popularity.

Crypto is a fast moving space, as most people know. The speed at which assets that saw red-hot demand just a year ago can drop in popularity may surprise many though.

Data from retail investing and trading platform eToro has laid bare the cryptos that dropped like a stone among its global customer base, and those which snatched their place in the rankings. 

While market cap lists can provide an approximation of popularity, they are a very rough measure, with a lot of intertwined factors. They also makes no distinction between retail investors and institutional or VC buyers. 

eToro has a hefty 23 million users around the world, so its open interest numbers can provide a sharper insight into the changing of the guard in the retail investing crypto marketplace. 

The trading platform shared exclusive data with Insider on the following top 20 rankings for the end of 2021 versus 2020. 

eToro 2021 global crypto asset leaderboard
Cryptoasset 2021 ranking 2020 ranking Change
Bitcoin (BTC) 1 1 No change
Cardano (ADA) 2 4 Up two places
Ether (ETH) 3 3 No change
Dogecoin (DOGE) 4 NEW NEW
XRP (XRP) 5 2 Down three places
TRON (TRX) 6 7 Up one place
Shiba (SHIB) 7 NEW NEW
Stellar (XLM) 8 6 Down two places
IOTA (MIOTA) 9 9 No change
Litecoin (LTC) 10 5 Down five places
Binance Coin (BNB) 11 15 Up four places
Ethereum Classic (ETC) 12 13 Up one place
Decentraland (MANA) 13 NEW NEW
Dash (DASH) 14 11 Down three places
EOS (EOS) 15 14 Down one place
Tezos (XTZ) 16 10 Down six places
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) 17 8 Down nine places
NEO (NEO) 18 12 Down six places
Chainlink (LINK) 19 NEW NEW
Solana (SOL) 20 NEW NEW

The first thing that jumps out is that bitcoin has actually increased its popularity, despite the weakness towards the end of last year.

While many of the older cryptos have fallen out of favour, the original one retains its shine, with a 223% increase in open positions – enough to keep it firmly in the number one spot.

This is arguably a surprising finding given the view that bitcoin has been overshadowed in terms of returns by many other coins and no longer offers the prospect of explosive profits in the way altcoins can. Bitcoin gained a respectable 60% last year. But smaller rivals like solana gained over 4,000%, while meme token dogecoin rose by more than 1,400%.

Something else that jumps out is that number two crypto by market cap ether has been knocked down to third place on eToro by rival blockchain cardano. 

Away from bitcoin and ether, the ‘older’ generation of cryptos has been hammered. The likes of XRP, stellar and litecoin have plunged in popularity with eToro users.

Dash, EOS, Tezos, Bitcoin Cash and NEO have also seen a remarkable fall in the space of just 12 months. 

Grabbing their places in the charts are dogecoin and spinoff shiba inu, which took 4th and 7th place, respectively. 

Metaverse coin mana (Decentraland) has made a splash by jumping straight into the 13th spot, amid a frenzy of interest in the space during the later part of 2021 following Facebook’s name change to Meta. 

Blockchain solana and oracle token chainlink both began the year as new tokens on the platform, but ended in the top 20 most opened positions.

“2021 was a momentous year for crypto assets, with bitcoin and ether hitting all-time highs on more than one occasion,” said Simon Peters, crypto market analyst at eToro. “From El Salvador adopting it as legal tender, to the arrival of ETFs and institutional adoption, bitcoin is now firmly entrenched in the universe of investing.”

“DeFi surged onto the scene in 2021. Although many projects have been running for some time, last year really was the moment when an increasing number of investors embraced DeFi,” he continued.

“With decentralized projects keen to give token holders a say, investors now have more say than ever in areas such as governance and rewards. With trends such as Web 3.0 and the metaverse only set to grow in 2022, we expect DeFi will go from strength to strength as it becomes more embedded in the mainstream,” he said.