The cryptocurrency market capitalization industry-wide reached $200 billion for the first time in history. This is a huge increase from the $40 billion market cap at the beginning of 2017.
The first weekend in November was a dramatic one for the cryptocurrency space. Altcoins that had been gaining in value suddenly lost much or all of the gains in the span of about 36 hours. Meanwhile, bitcoin saw its price climb to atmospheric new highs of more than $7,500 per coin on the news that bitcoin futures would be available before the end of 2017.
Volatility Remains the Standard
A recent article by The Merkle suggests that despite the swift gains in the overall market cap for the cryptocurrency industry, the market has yet to shed any of its characteristic volatility. On the contrary, there have been greater levels of volatility during the weeks leading up to the record-setting market cap level as compared with the rest of 2017.
Currently, however, the situation seems to primarily affect altcoins, which have seen a major downturn. In spite of their lost value, those coins are nonetheless a portion of the market cap that has climbed so high.
Bitcoin Is the Centerpiece
Across the digital currency space, it may come as no surprise to investors that bitcoin remains the fixture of the market cap. All bitcoins in circulation are worth more than $125 billion at this point. Bitcoin has been the leading digital currency in terms of market capitalization since the beginning of the trend, but that figure is still impressive, considering the total market cap for the cryptocurrency space was less than one-third of that just months ago.
Accompanying the rise in bitcoin's price is an increase in the Bitcoin Dominance Index. This index sits at more than 60%, suggesting that bitcoin remains the most important digital currency for the time being. Of course, considering the overall volatility in the market, it is a safe bet that bitcoin's value will fall at some point, and that altcoins will see their values increase once again.
For now, bitcoin prices are still driven primarily by speculation. The upcoming SegWit2x hard fork, slated for later in November, is almost sure to set off a price correction for the currency.
As of this writing, ethereum remains the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, with a total market valuation of more than $28 billion. Bitcoin Cash is in third place, although it, too, remains far behind its bigger brother, the original bitcoin.
The $200 billion benchmark is significant for the cryptocurrency industry, but it is relatively paltry compared with traditional companies and investment instruments. Nonetheless, it is an important milestone in a rapidly-growing space. (See more: Cryptocurrency Market Cap is Up 810% YTD.)