NXT is not a Bitcoin source-code derivative, so doesn’t directly deserve the altcoin moniker. That being said it definitely is a brother-in-arms, adopting many of the core concepts while trying a different approach. It is a complete reimplementation of blockchain technology in Java, with a feature set heavily geared towards tokenization and distributed exchange. In many ways it is clearly geared as a spiritual successor to Bitcoin, addressing many of the core infrastructure concerns while adding a strong complement of crypto currency 2.0 features. A lot of this new functionality is built on the core of the project, rather than being bolted on to the existing technical stack. Total market capitalization is $28,860,616 at the time of this writing, number 5 according to coinmarketcap. It is important to note that those statistics are based on extrapolation of total available supply, which may not be an accurate gauge of real total monetary value or market penetration.
So what makes NXT special? Its considered a dark horse candidate in part because the technical stack is so different from Bitcoin core, major bugs in the latter that would surely tank the value of Bitcoin should not affect NXT. In this hypothetical scenario a major issue in Bitcoin and the thousands altcoin derivatives it is based on would destroy the credibility of it’s ecosystem, and NXT would be there to pick up the pieces and reap the rewards. This is a valid argument. I don’t personally believe that Bitcoin suffers from fundamental flaws in its design that would lead to total collapse, but if one were hedging a position in crypto currencies certainly NXT deserves mention.
From a technical standpoint we have 1 minute block times for fast confirmation, block retargetting to prevent changes in the network from adversely affecting the confirmation times, and a large fixed tokenized supply distributed via proof-of-stake. The proof-of-stake algorithm deserves its own post, it tries to address the tendency for mined networks to centralize and to keep the network fair and secure. It hasn’t undergone quite the rigorous upbringing of Bitcoin’s proof-of-work mining, but time will tell as the NXT network expands. The few projects I have seen built on the NXT network are an impressive demonstration of its capabilities.
If you are trading in altcoins I would consider NXT a hedge position against the market leaders. For those who are familiar with Taleb’s black swan, a major unforeseen event in the Bitcoin network should considerably bolster the value of NXT and other alternative blockchain-based networks.