The inchoate cryptocurrency sector on Friday approached a total value of three-quarters of a trillion dollars, marking a fresh record for virtual assets, even as the No. 1 virtual unit, bitcoin
got off to a rocky start in the first week of 2018.
The total virtual-currency market rose to about $780 billion intraday. That is a record, but relatively small compared with fiat currencies and other traditional commodities like gold, a more than $6 trillion asset, but bringing the cyber sector closer to a level that suggests it is drawing far more institutional buyers (see chart below):
A single bitcoin was fetching $16,340 on Friday, up nearly 8%, according to research and news site CoinDesk.com, highlighting a recent resurgence for bitcoin that has helped it to shake off early weakness in the early year, even as rival currencies, including Ripple coins and Ethereum’s Ether broke out to all-time highs above $3.85, and $1,000, respectively, before retreating.
Still, bitcoin remains about 20% off its mid-December apex near $20,000 and has slipped to a market share of 36% versus its rivals, compared with a peak share above recent peak in early 2017 of 86%, according to data site CoinMarketcap.com. (see chart below):
Coinbase and its institutional unit GDAX may face a new challenger: Former hedge-fund manager and cryptocurency enthusiasts James Altucher is said to be raising $10 million to launch a virtual-currency exchange called Bitzumi Inc. If Altucher’s name sounds familiar, he has been ardently promoting books and other services to assist investors in the growing segment that has often been referred to as a “fraud” and speculative bubble.
Zuckerberg takes a shine to cryptos?
CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post on Thursday said he would like to study encryption and cryptocurrencies “that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands…I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.”
Bank of England crypto on hold—for now
Officials from the The Bank of England said the central bank has decided not to launch its own cryptocurrency, amid mounting concerns that such a move could lead the public to abandon commercial banks.
A digital-currency prepaid debit card
has cracked down on providers of pre-paid cards that allow users to make payments from cryptocurrency holdings.
Card issuer Wave Crest Holdings told users that Visa shut down the cards due to “non-compliance with its operating rules.”
Following an announcement from our card issuer on behalf of Visa Europe, Bitwala cards are taken out of operation starting today. Our team is holding an emergency meeting to resolve the issue with the card holders best interest in mind and will make an update shortly.
— Bitwala (@bitwala) January 5, 2018