Bitcoin prices are feeling the pull of gravity today, amid solid gains across many alternative cryptocurrencies.
Having soared to new record highs around $20,000 over the weekend, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization has since dropped to sub-$18,000 levels.
Meanwhile, ether (ETH) and bitcoin cash (BCH) have both hit new all-time highs today (as per CoinMarketCap).
Ether on the rise
Ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain network, has recorded a $3.8 billion daily trading volume consistently over the past three days. Throughout the past 24 hours, on December 19, the price of Ether surged by nearly 20 percent, from $716 to $840.
With several exceptions such as Bitcoin Cash, NEM, and Qtum, Ether has outperformed almost every cryptocurrency in the market in a short period of time.
Previously, Ether’s global daily trading volume was heavily concentrated in the South Korean cryptocurrency exchange market. Bithumb, Coinone, Korbit, South Korea’s three leading cryptocurrency exchanges, accounted for around 35 percent of global Ether trades.
Recently, the US cryptocurrency exchange market has processed the majority of Ether trades, with Bitfinex and Coinbase’s flagship cryptocurrency trading platform GDAX settling nearly $800 million in daily Ether trades.
Earlier this month, billionaire hedge fund legend and investor Mike Novogratz expressed his optimism towards the mid to long-term growth trend of Ether. Novogratz predicted the price of Ether to triple by the end of 2018, from $500 to $1,500.
Already, the price of Ether has surpassed $850 and moving closer to the $900 mark. Several analysts in the cryptocurrency sector have also noted that Ether is undervalued, given its developer and user activity that are significantly higher than other cryptocurrencies in the market.
Factors behind Ether’s latest surge
Through bitcoin futures, investors in the traditional finance sector have started to enter the cryptocurrency market. Primarily because of the massive success of some decentralized applications such as CryptoKitties and EtherDelta, and the fact that Ethereum is the only cryptocurrency in the global market that can compete with bitcoin in terms of developer activity, usability, fungibility, liquidity, and scalability, Ethereum has garnered the attention of investors in both the cryptocurrency sector and traditional finance industry.
Because of the underlying scalability issues of the Ethereum blockchain, core developers of Ethereum are actively developing unique solutions such as Plasma, Casper, and Raiden to relieve users and decentralized application developers of gas costs and excessive fees.
But, as Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin emphasized, scaling of the Ethereum blockchain could take anywhere between three to five years, depending on the developer activity. As Ethereum continues to scale and its technology improves, the value of Ether as a means of financing decentralized applications will increase further.