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The crypto craze continues.
Bitcoin rival ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency in the world, soared past $4,000 per coin for the first time on Monday.
Ether, which is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain, saw its price climb more than 5 percent Monday, according to Coinbase data, and trade at about $4,100 per coin. It pared some of those gains and traded at about $4,040 per coin later in the morning.
That brings ether’s gains for the year to about 450 percent, far outpacing bitcoin’s roughly 100 percent gains since Jan. 1. Ether now boasts a market capitalization of almost $470 billion, just under half that of bitcoin, the largest crypto in the world.
Investor appetite for ether hasn’t shown any signs of slowing as crypto traders look for options in the space beyond bitcoin. Ether topped $3,000 per coin for the first time just a week ago as investors continue to pour into the crypto space.
Ether and bitcoin differ in important ways. While both are cryptocurrencies, investors see bitcoin largely as a store of value similar to traditional commodities like gold. Proponents of the Ethereum blockchain, however, view it as the underlying technology that could one day create a global financial infrastructure that’s not regulated by centralized authorities.
The movement has become known as DeFi, or decentralized finance. The decentralized finance movement seeks to largely replace banks with blockchain technology as the home of financial transactions like borrowing, lending and trading.
Ethereum, which allows multiple software developers to build apps on its decentralized network, is particularly appealing to DeFi evangelists. And the popularity of the Ethereum blockchain helps boost the value of its native currency, ether.
One popular trend in the decentralized app space are non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, many of which are based on the Ethereum blockchain. NFTs are digital assets that represent ownership of virtual items like art and sports memorabilia. Some NFTs have fetched jaw-dropping prices in recent months and the prospect of companies cashing in on the movement have sent a handful of stock prices soaring.
The overall crypto space has been increasingly winning acceptance recently, largely thanks to the rise of bitcoin in recent years, which accelerated over the past six months. Several mainstream investors have jumped into the market, buoying the price of bitcoin and helping the broader market for cryptos.
Ether has been winning some recent institutional acceptance as well. Bloomberg reported last month that the European Investment Bank plans to issue a digital bond over the Ethereum blockchain.
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