Virtual currencies have become big business, but they can create turmoil. Confusion is often caused because of the large amount of tokens that trade on exchanges and the even bigger number of tokens that are listed on the ERC20 registry. Experts cannot even say how many cryptocurrency tokens exist. After all, ethereum alone has over 68,000 tokens.

It is easy to create tokens via a smart contract, but the resulting overload creates confusion because of similarities in names and abbreviations. For example, Matrix Network and Matryx have similar names, even though their tickers differ (MAN and MTX). However, when large groups of people try to invest in one and accidentally end up obtaining the other, it can create unforeseen spikes in value.

Nonetheless, tokens with similar names do not cause the most issues. Bigger problems arise when tokens have identical tickers. For example, Bitcoin Cash was listed on some exchanges as BCH while others traded it under BCC. The discrepancy occurred because BCC was already the ticker symbol for Bitconnect, prior to the launch of Bitcoin Cash. Finally, BCH was universally implemented because the latter platform did not last.

According to Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine and Ethereum, the availability of cryptocurrency codes is restricted to slightly above 17,000. This creates a problem in the world of Initial Coin Offering (ICO) because unclaimed abbreviations are hard to find. One example is BLT, which is listed by Conmarketcap twice: once for Bloom Coins and once for Bitcoin Lightning. Both coins were listed within a few days of each other.

Mainly, creators are limited to two options: Anticipate that their venture will become more successful than another with the same codes, or choose a longer name that is unique. The former option obviously worked for Bitcoin Cash, and the latter seems to work for Ethorse (HORSE).

Regardless, the popular three-letter abbreviations are the most coveted, and the race is on to snap them up before the competition can. This phenomenon seems eerily similar to the obsession with domain names that ensued when everyone wanted to get in on the dot-com boom. Since countless tokens have already become obsolete and many others are doomed to follow suit, abbreviations ought to be freed up sooner rather than later. However, these coins’ presence on sites such as Coinmarketcap can continue to create havoc until failed tokens are officially delisted and pronounced dead.