The five best crypto performers of 2021 revealed

While volatility remains an issue, the top tokens delivered some truly outsized gains.

| More on:
a close up of a hand is outstretched amid graphic images of currency and cyprtocurrency symbols seemingly floating around a sphere of light representing perhaps the globe.

Image source: Getty Images

Whether you’re a crypto fan or crypto sceptic, there’s no denying the numbers.

2021 was a banner year for the world’s top digital currencies.

While there was plenty of volatility along the way, steely nerved investors who bought into the top 5 tokens on 1 January 2021 and held on through 31 December will be sitting on some seriously outsized gains.

Below we take a look at those 5 top performers.

To weed out potential price spikes from tiny altcoins, these leading 5 were all taken from the list of top 100 tokens by market cap, and sourced from data by CoinMarketCap.

With that said…

2021’s fourth and fifth best performing digital tokens

Coming in at number 5, with a 2021 price gain of 10,121% is Terra (CRYPTO: LUNA).

Terra ended the calendar year trading at US$85.54. That gave the token a market valuation of US$24.98 billion, the 10th biggest crypto in virtual circulation and the biggest to make it onto our top performers list.

So, what does Terra do?

According to CoinMarketCap, “Terra is a blockchain protocol that uses fiat-pegged stablecoins to power price-stable global payments systems.” Launched in April 2019, Terra says it offers fast and affordable settlements.

Moving on to the number four best performing crypto, we have Polygon (CRYPTO: MATIC), which posted an 11,816% gain in 2021.

Polygon was trading for US$2.56 on 31 December. That gave it a market cap of US$15.03 billion and made it the number 14 token by market cap.

Polygon, CoinMarketCap tells us, is “a platform for Ethereum scaling and infrastructure development”, capable of building numerous different kinds of applications

2021’s second and third best performing altcoins

The third best crypto performer of the year just gone by is The Sandbox (CRYPTO: SAND).

Sand gained 13,458% during the calendar year, trading for US$5.02 on 31 December. That gave the token a market valuation of US$4.59 billion and brought it up to number 39 in the global list of cryptocurrencies.

The Sandbox is relatively old, by crypto standards, having launched back in 2011. Using blockchain technology, the token provides a virtual world than enables users to “create, build, buy and sell digital assets in the form of a game”.

While you’re unlikely to hear investors in The Sandbox complaining, fellow gaming related crypto, Axie Infinity (CRYPTO: AXS), stole the second best performing spot with a 2021 gain of 16,573%.

On 31 December Axie Infinity was worth US$98.81, giving it a market cap of US$6.02 billion. That moved it up on the list to become the 27th biggest token by market valuation.

Also blockchain based, Axie Infinity is a “trading and battling game that is partially owned and operated by its players… [allowing] players to collect, breed, raise, battle and trade token-based creatures known as Axies.”

Which brings us to…

The best performing crypto of 2021

While most everyone would welcome the returns from the 4 top performing altcoins listed above, none compare to the whopping 46,704% gain posted by 2021’s number 1 crypto gainer, Gala (CRYPTO: GALA).

Gala finished the year trading at 48.1 US cents. That gave it a market valuation of US$3.36 billion, making it the number 46 crypto in virtual circulation as at 31 December.

Like The Sandbox and Axie Infinity, Gala is also rooted in the gaming world. According to CoinMarketCap, “Players can own non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and influence the governance of games within the Gala Games ecosystem.”

Since launching in 2019, Gala Games now has 1.3 million monthly active users. The platform has sold 26,000 NFTs to date, with one selling for US$3 million.

Wondering where you should invest $1,000 right now?

When investing expert Scott Phillips has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the flagship Motley Fool Share Advisor newsletter he has run for over ten years has provided thousands of paying members with stock picks that have doubled, tripled or even more.*

Scott just revealed what he believes could be the five best ASX stocks for investors to buy right now. These stocks are trading at near dirt-cheap prices and Scott thinks they could be great buys right now.

*Returns as of January 12th 2022

The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

More on Cryptocurrencies

a man weraing a suit sits nervously at his laptop computer biting into his clenched hand with nerves, and perhaps fear.
Cryptocurrencies

Can regulators prevent another US$45 billion crypto stablecoin meltdown?

Terra's LUNA token, meant to help its UST token remain pegged to the US dollar, has lost 99.99% of its…

Read more »

A man looks down with fright as he falls towards the ground.
Cryptocurrencies

Is the Bitcoin price heading all the way back down to US$20,000?

Last week's meltdown of UST and its backing crypto LUNA sent most every crypto tumbling lower.

Read more »

A rich buisnessman buys luxury items with Bitcoin
Cryptocurrencies

How is the Bitcoin ETF (EBTC) performing compared to the ASX on Friday?

All three crypto ETFs which launched yesterday are well into the green today.

Read more »

Man looking concerned head in hands at laptop
Cryptocurrencies

Could the next crypto collapse flow through to ASX shares?

The LUNA token, meant to keep UST pegged to the US dollar, just crashed more than 99%.

Read more »

a man peers out from a high collared jacket with just his eyes and nose visible amid a swirling snowstorm.
Cryptocurrencies

Is this the start of a long crypto winter?

Looking back, a cryptocurrency bear market started exactly a year ago. How long will this last until fortunes turn around…

Read more »

a close up of a woman's face looks skywards as she is showered in a sea of graphic symbols of gold and silver coins bearing the bitcoin logo.
Cryptocurrencies

How are Australia’s Ethereum and Bitcoin ETFs faring on their first day?

The three crypto ETFs all offer investors direct exposure to the underlying digital tokens, but you won't find them on…

Read more »

A bitcoin sits on a graph with red arrow going down
Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin price plunges below US$30,000. What’s going on?

The world's top crypto looks to be caught up in Terra's UST and LUNA selloff.

Read more »

Cryptocurrencies

Is it ‘game over’? Top crypto plunges 97% overnight in stablecoin rout

With no government backing, digital assets depend on their users' confidence for much of their value.

Read more »