Bitcoin has broken fresh ground this week, climbing above $20,000 per bitcoin for the first time ever and grabbing global attention again three years after bitcoin’s 2017 boom and subsequent bust.
The bitcoin price is up around 30% over the last month, adding to gains of more than 200% since January—and pushing up other top five cryptocurrencies by value ethereum, Ripple’s XRP, and litecoin.
Ethereum, Ripple’s XRP, and litecoin, some times known as alt coins, have all soared by more than 30% over the last 30-day period, with the likes of smaller cryptocurrencies cardano, NEM and stellar making even bigger gains.
“While bitcoin has largely dominated the narrative, I believe investors should look to alt coins who have tremendous amounts of development in both the core technology and usership, yet are still a fair way off their all-time highs,” Nicholas Pelecanos, head of trading at NEM, which developed NEM’s XEM digital token, said in emailed comments.
“Does this leave these alt coins undervalued against bitcoin? I believe it does and am expecting to see the price of these alt coins, such as ethereum and XEM, rally hard when the bitcoin price inevitably slows down.”
Many smaller cryptocurrencies are closely tied to the bitcoin price, with moves higher and lower triggered by bitcoin developments and sentiment. However, alt coins often swing by much bigger percentages, often losing or gaining double and even triple digit percentages in mere days.
Cardano, a top ten cryptocurrency, has added around 70% over the last month. Two top 20 cryptocurrencies, NEM and stellar, have more than doubled in price over the last 30 days, as bitcoin puts cryptocurrencies back in focus.
Bitcoin’s reputation as digital gold has grown this year, gaining as investors fret over the possibility of increased inflation and helped on by a number of big-name investors who have publicly named bitcoin as an emerging inflation hedge.
Bitcoin’s jump higher this week came after news fund manager Ruffer Investment Management moved around $750 million of its clients’ money into bitcoin—a move designed to “primarily a protective move for portfolios” to “act as a hedge” against “some of the risks that we see in a fragile monetary system and distorted financial markets,” a Ruffer spokesperson told bitcoin and crypto news website Coindesk.
Ahead of bitcoin’s surge over $20,000, many smaller cryptocurrencies, such as ethereum and XRP, were already soaring as investors eyed technical developments and token giveaways.
XRP, a digital token developed by Ripple, made huge gains through November ahead of a hotly-anticipated giveaway of a new cryptocurrency, known as an airdrop. Ripple controls around 60 billion of the 100 billion XRP tokens that will ever be created.
The XRP price has fallen back slightly since it peaked late last month but its currently up by around 90%.
Meanwhile, ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin, is up by 32% over the last 30 days. Investors began piling into ethereum over the summer amid a surge of interest in decentralized finance (DeFi)—using crypto technology to recreate traditional financial instruments such as loans and insurance.
Ethereum’s blockchain is used as rails by many DeFi projects and some investors think the ethereum price will benefit as DeFi’s popularity rises. Ethereum was given a further boost by the closely-watched launch of ethereum 2.0 last month.
Litecoin, some times known as the silver to bitcoin’s gold, has this week climbed to its highest price since for 16 months, up around 40% on its price 30 days ago. However, litecoin is still far from its all-time highs set in late 2017, down some 75%.
The bitcoin and cryptocurrency community has been quick to talk up bitcoin’s 2021 prospects despite its recent sky-high gains, with many pointing to PayPal’s
“We are only in phase one of the bull-run,” Pascal Gauthier, the chief executive of France-based bitcoin and cryptocurrency physical wallet maker Ledger, said via email. “Many big players are investing time and resources to build or buy digital asset infrastructures needed to support the swell of institutional and retail adoption.”