Although the price of bitcoin has fluctuated considerably for most of the past year, this last two weeks may have been among the most volatile for the leading digital currency. Bitcoin achieved an all-time high of $7,721 by the middle of November, then dipped to a relative low of around $5,600 per coin in the days that followed. This drop of 25% is significant, but it's not out of the ordinary for the digital currency, which has come to be known for its dramatic price fluctuations. At the same time, bitcoin cash reached record high prices of $2,500 over the same period. Altogether, trading volumes as these two events were taking place peaked at more than $26 billion in a single day, according to a report by Business Insider.

Record High Trading Volumes

As bitcoin and its offshoot, bitcoin cash, have seen dramatic volatility in recent weeks, 24-hour trading volumes for cryptocurrencies in general have climbed to record-setting levels. With Sunday, November 12th trading topping out at $26 billion for the industry, the cryptocurrency space dwarfed average trading volumes for some U.S. stock exchanges. In fact, the cryptocurrency volumes were more than twice as high as those for IEX, an upstart exchange centered in New York, and the Chicago Stock Exchange. Each of these exchanges has averaged less than $10 billion in daily trading volume for the five days leading up to the cryptocurrency peak. IEX saw $7.8 billion of trading conducted on its venue, while CHX experienced just $3.1 billion in volume on average.

For comparison, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq both had trading volumes of more than $50 billion for each day of the same period, on average.

Exchanges May Move to Capitalize on Activity

With the growing investor interest and activity in the cryptocurrency area, some exchanges are making moves toward the new industry. Cboe and CME have each announced plans to launch bitcoin futures products in the relatively near future, for example. Some major banks and firms, including Bank of America, have suggested that higher trading volumes in the cryptocurrency space could help to legitimize cryptocurrencies in the world of traditional investing. On the other hand, other traditional investors, including BlackRock head Larry Fink, have speculated that the growth of bitcoin suggests "how much money laundering is being done in the world." JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has also had similarly disparaging things to say about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. Nonetheless, it appears that the broader interest in cryptocurrencies among the worldwide investor base is only growing, at least for the time being.