As of this week, the cryptocurrency industry across the globe is worth more than half a trillion dollars. The landmark achievement occurred thanks to rallies in the altcoin space and continued strong performance from leaders like bitcoin.

As ethereum, ripple, and litecoin all climbed early in the week, the total market capitalization climbed over $500 billion across the crypto industry for the first time in history. For many analysts and investors, the achievement happened quickly, a testament to the rapidly shifting prices associated with the space.

From $467B to $500B in 1 Day

According to CryptoCoinsNews, the cryptocurrency industry began Tuesday at a combined market cap of $467 billion, with bitcoin having ended the previous day with sideways trading. Given how far off that market cap total was from $500 billion, and the recent performance of bitcoin, it seemed unlikely that the landmark market capitalization would be reached as quickly as it was.

Nonetheless, by the end of the day on December 12, and thanks to a surge among altcoins, the total market cap for the space climbed as high as $505.9 billion before ending the day at $504.3 billion. For comparison, at that level, cryptocurrencies as a group are worth more than Warren Buffett's conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, the legendary holding company.

Unusual Rally Without Bitcoin

The interesting element of the rally in the cryptocurrency space which led to the new record was that it did not involve bitcoin. The leading digital currency by market cap has climbed by more than 10 times in volume since the beginning of 2017, reaching an all-time high of close to $20,000 earlier this fall.

Owing to the vast share of bitcoin in the total market cap for the cryptocurrency space (as of this writing, more than one-half of the total market cap is taken up by this one digital currency alone), shifts in the price of that coin can have major effects on the industry. In this case, though, the new record was achieved thanks to spectacular rises in some of the slightly lesser known coins. Ethereum made advances for multiple days in a row, reaching close to $700, and ripple climbed as well. In total, these gains helped bring the altcoin maket cap to over $200 billion for the first time ever.

At the same time, bitcoin cash rose marginally for the day, but it didn't compare with the major growth of ripple, ethereum, and litecoin over the same span. CryptoCoinsNews attributes some of the gains in ripple to increased demand among South Korean investors.

Thanks to that activity, the market cap of the fourth-largest digital currency has reached to more than $18 billion. If it continues those gains, it may supplant bitcoin cash as the third largest digital currency by market cap. (See more: Top 5 Cryptocurrencies by Market Cap.)

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