Has the Crypto Market Finally Turned a Corner?

Bitcoin and the broader crypto universe traded firmly higher on Wednesday as South Korea left little doubt about its intent to foster a vibrant market. Not only are the South Koreans not banning cryptocurrency trading, they have shifted their focus to making the market more transparent.

Market Extends Recovery

The total value of cryptocurrencies reached a high of $455 billion on Wednesday, just $3 billion shy of their February high. At the time of writing, the market was worth $452.6 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That represents a gain of more than $30 billion over the past day.

All the major coins posted strong gains on Wednesday, with Litecoin jumping more than 30% to reach its highest level in a month. The coin was last seen trading at $208.65 for a market cap of $11.5 billion.

Earlier we speculated that Litecoin could be even more undervalued than the broader market ahead of the planned launch of LitePay later this month. The new payment platform attempts to solve the payments trap currently inflicting most digital currencies. According to the official website, LitePay will allow retailers to “accept payments from customers anywhere in the world.”

Meanwhile, the value of bitcoin jumped to $9,300 for the first time in two weeks, taking its total market cap to nearly $157 billion.

Broad gains on Wednesday were accompanied by higher trade volumes across the digital asset class. Roughly $23.4 billion worth of transactions were carried out over the past 24 hours, much higher than recent levels.

Market Outlook Improves, but Risks Remain

The cryptocurrency market has entered a consolidation phase as volatility continues to recede. The important question for traders is whether the recent bout of good news is enough to offset a dominant downtrend that extends back to the middle of January.

That being said, the cryptocurrency market has recovered roughly $175 billion from its swing low earlier this month, a significant achievement given the general lack of interest from speculators in recent weeks.

Wednesday’s announcement from South Korea that it has no plans to ban cryptocurrency trading is also significant, and follows recent testimony from U.S. regulators echoing similar sentiment. Although regulators are concerned about the cryptocurrency market, they have no intent to shut them down – at least, not in South Korea or the United States.

However, ICOs may be singing a different tune as U.S. lawmakers continue to warn about dubious “utility” token labels. Washington’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has made it abundantly clear that it will be keeping a close eye on this market. Token issuers have quickly taken notice, with many omitting U.S. investors from their list of eligible participants.

Depending on who you ask, the ICO market is heating up at the start of the year, with billions flowing into token raises. However, conflicting data from ICOWatchlist.com shows that the market came to an abrupt halt in January, with only $52 million raised.

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