$750 Billion and Beyond: Crypto Market Hits Another Milestone as Altcoins Surge

We are only four days into 2018, but the cryptocurrency market has already achieved another major milestone as the total value of digital assets surged past $700 billion for the first time.

Crypto Market Cap: Onward and Upward

The total value of all cryptocurrencies in circulation came within a hair of $750 billion on Thursday, according to data provider CoinMarketCap. At press time, the total market size was $749.9 billion, which represents a daily increase of nearly 11%.

Just 24 hours ago, the market was capitalized at $678 billion, a record high at the time.

Over the last 12 months, cryptos have gone from an obscure and esoteric concept to a mainstream investment attracting institutional capital from around the world. Over that period, the market cap has risen by an astounding 3,800%.

Altcoins Take a Bigger Share of the Pie

One of the most resounding features of the latest rally is the fact that bitcoin played only a minor role. Though still the largest cryptocurrency, bitcoin’s influence on the market has quickly faded, with the likes of Ripple (XRP), Ethereum (ETH) and even Cardano (ADA) controlling a bigger share of the overall pie.

At the time of writing, there were 35 cryptocurrencies with a market value of $1 billion or more. Three additional assets were valued at more than $900 million and 19 more had a cap of half at least half a billion.

For bitcoin, prices climbed back above $15,000 on Wednesday, and were last seen hovering around $15,330.

The real story continues to be Ripple XRP, which briefly traded above $3 a token Wednesday as traders rushed to capitalize on the best-performing currency of 2018. (Interestingly, bitcoin held that titled in six of seven years through 2016.)

Recent gains in the market have also been driven by lesser known coins that analysts say offer huge potential for the digital economy. We’ve already mentioned Cardano – now the world’s no. 5 crypto by market cap – but there’s also NEM (XEM), Stellar (XLM), IOTA (MIOTA) and Tron (TRX). These altcoins are part of the top-11 cryptocurrencies by market cap. As these tokens surge, bitcoin’s share of the total market has fallen to an all-time low of 34.6%. Ripple controls 16.6% of the market and Ethereum 12.7%. Put differently, altcoins now represent two-thirds of the crypto universe.

The recent price rally suggests cryptos are picking up where they left off in 2017. However, some analysts are concerned that evolving regulations could rain on bull market’s parade. Last week, South Korea became the latest country to issue stern warnings about cryptocurrency speculation, with a government official warning that major exchanges could get shut down if newly implemented rules fail to cool the market.

The South Korean Financial Services Commission (FSC) has issued swift bans on new trading accounts on domestic exchanges, and has barred anyone from opening anonymous trading accounts. The new rules come into effect this month, and follow earlier efforts to restricted minors and non-residents from trading on domestic cryptocurrency exchanges.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 



Chief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi