Bitcoin Price Steadies as Crypto Market Cap Hits All-Time High

It's official: The cryptocurrency market has a new all-time high market cap. As of this moment, that number is approximately $661.2 billion. This is some $8 billion higher than the all-time high reached in mid-December, when Bitcoin was trading close to $20,000 per. 

Bitcoin Stems the Tide, Maybe

Bitcoin has, for the moment, it seems, stopped the bleeding. In the past 24 hours (Jan 2, 2018,14:55 UTC-5 at the time of writing), the price of a single Bitcoin rose from $13,360.10 to $15014.40, much of that spike coming right after news reports that Founders Fund--co-founded by billionaire Peter Thiel--had invested between $15 to $20 million in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin has a market cap of $234.52 billion at the time of writing. Over the past two weeks, we have seen the Bitcoin's market cap and price fall precipitously, from over $330 billion and $20,000, respectively, to as low as $205 billion and $12,000. The marquee cryptocurrency's market share is sitting near unprecedented lows, falling from 66% in early December to 35.9% today. But Bitcoin seems to have steadied, if only momentarily. Will the crypto behemoth be able to continue in an upward trend, or at least maintain a holding pattern? It's too soon to tell, but if other cryptocurrencies continue to grow, Bitcoin may lose its pole position.

Crypto Movers and Shakers

Those other cryptocurrencies are Ethereum and Ripple. They are also the reason that the market cap has reached its all-time high. About two weeks ago, there was a moment when Ripple briefly eclipsed Bitcoin Cash, as the third largest cryptocurrency, with a market share of about 8.92%, before returning to the four spot. Since then, Ripple has become the second largest cryptocurrency in the world, surpassing both Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum, with a market share as high as 17.08%. Currently, Ripple has a price of $2.41 (up 8.4% from yesterday), a market share of 14.2% and a market cap of $93.22 billion. 

What caused this latest surge? According to Business Insider, this increase comes after Ripple's Asian subsidiary and a group of Japanese credit card companies announced a new consortium. The consortium is trying to figure out how to deploy blockchain and distributed ledger technology in credit card payments. This bodes well for Ripple's XRP, a currency created by Ripple that focuses on bank transfers.

However, in the past day, Ethereum has exploded in value. Ethereum is currently trading at $896.85, up 17.16% from yesterday, and an all-time high for the cryptocurrency. The market cap is up, too, to $86.7 billion, giving it a 13.24% market share. Earlier today, around 2am, Ethereum and Ripple almost swapped spots again, as Ethereum reached a 13.67% market share, and Ripple dipped to 13.92%. This begs the question, why are Ethereum's market share and price rising so dramatically?

Basically, Ethereum is a cryptocurrency with incredible potential, but it has had some trouble scaling its operations efficiently and cost-effectively. Ethereum has a roadmap to address these concerns to make it faster and cheaper, as it scales. Eventually, Ethereum hopes to handle as many transactions per second as the Visa network, decentralized and cheaper. The first step on that roadmap, known as the Casper update, was released yesterday. 

(See: 4 Blockchain Contenders in Competition with Ethereum)

Further Down the Table

In other news, Bitcoin Cash is up 17.7% in the last day, a single Bitcoin Cash going from $2,400 to $2,800, and its market cap going from $40.9 billion to $48 billion. The other major mover in the top 10 today is Stellar (XLM). In an email to Business Insider on Tuesday morning, analyst Mati Greenspan wrote, "the logic is that if Bitcoin fails to replace the banking system, the current institutions may just use the Ripple network to integrate blockchain technology, speed up transactions and lower prices." Stellar is similar to Ripple, sharing a founder and a general goal of facilitating bank transfers. That, plus its endorsement from IBM and its partnership with Deloitte make it an attractive pick today. It's up 27% today. 

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 cryptocurrencies.

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