Ripple is now the world’s second-most valuable cryptocurrency. 

It had already overtaken ethereum briefly yesterday before the latter usurped its previous position. This time around, Ripple – which also doubles up as a payment network – has built a substantially higher valuation. (See also: How Do I Buy XRP (RIpple)?)

At 13:46 UTC, it was trading at $2.20 per coin, up 22% from its price 24 hours ago, and had a valuation of $85.2 billion. A single ethereum could be purchased at $687.96 and the cryptocurrency was worth $66.2 billion in the markets. (See also: Ripple Briefly Topped Bitcoin Cash To Be Third Largest Cryptocurrency.) 

The price of a single bitcoin continued to slide. At 13:51, it was worth $12,781.07, down 11.41% from its price 24 hours ago. Since December 27, the cryptocurrency has fallen by 22%. That figure is even more steep, almost 54%, since its high of $19,661.63 less than two weeks ago. 

Other cryptocurrencies were mostly in the red. Cardano, a three-month-old cryptocurrency, was the exception and had gains of 23% from its price 24 hours ago. At 14:00 UTC, the cryptocurrency market was worth $558 billion, trending downward from a high of $625.6 billion. 

What Accounts For Ripple’s Dramatic Rise? 

Ripple’s ascension through the ranks has been sudden and dramatic. Unlike bitcoin, which has risen consistently through the year, Ripple’s price has increased in spurts. For example, it spiked in June 2017 and, subsequently, two weeks ago. The most recent increase came on the back of news about banking consortiums in Japan and South Korea testing the cryptocurrency’s for cross-border payment transactions.

Ripple’s payment network is focused on bringing down costs and time required for such transactions. According to Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, certain global banks that sit at the top of the banking chain control liquidity in world markets for businesses and retails. This causes delays in clearing payments. “That’s crazy. We live in the age of the Internet and we should be able to move our money in real-time,” Garlinghouse said.

That pitch seems to have convinced Asian investors. A look at its trading volumes shows that the cryptocurrency’s rise has largely occurred on the back of enthusiastic trading in Asian exchanges.

At 03:17 UTC this morning – when Ripple’s price reached a high of $3.04 – four Asian exchanges were responsible for 52.07% of trading in the cryptocurrency. Ripple’s dominance also extended to U.S. based exchanges, where XRP/BTC (Ripple to Bitcoin conversion) was responsible for a major chunk of trading volumes.  

Bitcoin May Be Down But Is Not Out  

Bitcoin, the currency du jour, seems to have taken a backseat to other coins towards the end of 2017. Traders are still counting their gains from its spectacular increase this year. According to a CNBC report, Ark Web x.0 ETF (ARKW) and Ark Innovation ETF (ARKK), which count Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) among its holdings, are among the year’s best-performing ETFs. (See also: Why Buy This Expensive Bitcoin Trust Instead of Actual Bitcoin.) 

Brett Winton, director of research at the fund, said the firm intends to hold bitcoin in its portfolio because they have a better “long-term” understanding of its potential. "We see a young asset class like crypto assets as having lots of volatility and lots of potential upside," he said.

GBTC is traded in the OTC markets and, hence, is volatile. But bitcoin ETFs may be in the offing soon. (See also: Bitcoin ETFs Are Next In Line After Futures.) All of this should mean more avenues for mom-and-pop traders to benefit from bitcoin’s price volatility without incurring significant downside.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns 0.001 bitcoin. 

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