The price of bitcoin is testing the waters for a run-up to $12,000. At 13:44 UTC, a single bitcoin cost $11,859.52, a new record high.
By 14:25 UTC Tuesday, it was down to $11,796.02, still a 1.54% increase in the last 24 hours as governments and regulatory institutions around the world continued commentary about the cryptocurrency.
Among the top 10 most-traded cryptocurrencies, Monero, a cryptocurrency focused on anonymous transactions, was the biggest gainer, rising by 22.5% to $240.62. The cryptocurrency has been touted by anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee as a possible competitor to Bitcoin. Its price also seems to have benefited from a recent endorsement from music stars, who have begun accepting the cryptocurrency at an online shopping site.
IOTA, a cryptocurrency aimed at Internet of Things (IoT) transactions, continued its upward trajectory, rising by 19.21% to $2.96. (See also: 3 Obscure Cryptocurrencies To Watch.) The total market cap for cryptocurrencies was $355.2 billion, as of this writing.
A New Asset Class?
JPMorgan Chase Inc. (JPM), a firm which has a complicated relationship with bitcoin, released a note last week “elevating cryptocurrencies to a new asset class.” Analyst Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote that the “value of the new asset class is a function of the breadth of its acceptance as a store of wealth and as a means of payment.”
In percentage terms, the market valuation for cryptocurrencies has increased by 1,886% this year. While bitcoin’s price rise is ascribed to increased adoption and growing online chatter, other cryptocurrencies have mostly remained in the shadows. Their price hikes seem to have occurred on the swell of bitcoin’s rising fortunes, as opposed to a defined underlying utility or media commentary.
The situation seems even stranger when you consider that most of these cryptocurrencies have been around for a couple of years. Only two of the 1,324 cryptocurrencies in the world today were launched in 2017. One of them, Bitcoin Cash, forked off bitcoin’s blockchain and is now the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.
It's no wonder then that commentators and news media have increasingly begun to focus on the value of cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin. “The term 'bubble' tends to indicate a price no reasonable future outcome can justify. In price terms, bitcoin and altcoins (alternative cryptocurrencies) are in a bubble. In value terms, bitcoin is not,” wrote Ben Davies, co-founder of fintech company Glint, in an email interview with CNBC.
According to Davies, bitcoin is a mechanism for exchanging value over the Internet, just as there are various protocols for exchanging information. “So if its utility is increasing, the network value will continue to rise,” he wrote.
In the meanwhile, Bloomberg has come out with a long feature about Ttther, a cryptocurrency that has a one-to-one equivalence with the U.S. dollar. This means that each Tether is backed by a reserve dollar in a bank account. Except, as the article makes clear, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) cut ties with tether earlier this year. Other banks cited on the cryptocurrency’s website have been evasive about the question. Analysts are beginning to wonder whether there is a contagion risk from tether to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.