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Ethereum Flirts With Record Highs as Buterin Compares Crypto Surge to Salvator Mundi Auction

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Ethereum prices climbed to fresh records on Tuesday, as crypto mania picked up where it left off before the launch of bitcoin futures over the weekend.

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ETH/USD Price Levels

The value of ether touched an intraday high of $522.63, which was the highest level ever recorded for the world’s no. 2 cryptocurrency. Ether’s previous record was set on Saturday when prices crossed $518.

At press time, the coin was valued at around $513 for a gain of more than 8%. That gave ether a total market cap of nearly $50 billion. The cryptocurrency has added more than 4,000% this year, putting it among the world’s top altcoins.

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Trade volumes approached $2 billion over the previous 24 hours, which is equivalent to 118,000 bitcoin. Coinbase’s GDAX exchange had the highest turnover, with ETH/USD accounting for more than 9% of the volume. Bitfinex also processed more than 9% of ether transactions via ETH/USD. Meanwhile, Bithumb’s ETH/KRW cross saw 6% of the daily volume.

In all these cases, more than half a billion in ether was transaction.

Ether has successfully traded above $500 on several occasions, but has struggled to maintain those price levels. The previous record high was partly associated with the latest CryptoKitties craze, which promises frictionless trading of digital assets via blockchain.

Looking ahead, ether could struggle to break free from its recently defined trading range between $450 and $500. Although the market is slowly recovering from a congested network, record highs have been much harder to come by in recent months than other cryptocurrencies. By comparison, bitcoin has set multiple record highs over the same period. Several leading altcoins have also managed to climb to new heights on multiple occasions. Ethereum’s rally continues to be very much off-and-on.

Buterin Weighs In

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin recently compared the cryptocurrency market with the Salvator Mundi auction, which raised $450 million in November. The 23-year-old said growing interest in cryptocurrencies was “a reflection of the world at large. Buterin highlighted the growing popularity of CryptoKitties in sending his point across.

“I actually like the digital cat games,” Buterin said in a Dec. 4 tweet about CryptoKitties. “They illustrate very well that the value of a blockchain extends far beyond applications that would literally get shut down by banks or governments if they did not use one.”

Ethereum Use Cases on the Rise

Ethereum’s smart contract capability is being used by Switzerland’s largest banks to prepare for new European financial regulations. UBS announced Monday it has entered into partnership with Barclays, KBC and others to advance the MiFID II data collection initiative. The program will be driven by Ethereum smart contracts and run on the Microsoft Azure platform.

The combination of smart contracts and cloud will ensure banks can meet more stringent regulations on a common platform that will enable industry-wide reconciliation. Presently, these institutions must perform checks independently.

MiFID II will officially launch Jan. 3, 2018, and will replace the current regulatory directive.

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.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Fears of Regulatory Crackdown Flush $190 Billion Out of Crypto Market

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Bitcoin, Ethereum and every other major cryptocurrency collapsed on Tuesday, as fears of regulatory clampdown in South Korea triggered a mass exodus from the digital asset class. The collapse comes as mainstream media reports continue to push the idea of an imminent ban on cryptocurrency exchanges even as lawmakers cautioned no decision had been reached.

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Cryptocurrency Market in Free Fall

The cryptocurrency market declined rog $190 billion on Tuesday, marking one of the biggest single-day drops on record. At its lowest, the market was valued at $510 billion,  which was than $200 billion below its peak earlier this month.

The top 20 coins were each down in excess of 17%, according to data provider CoinMarketCap. Nearly $49 billion worth of cryptocurrency exchanged hands over the past 24 hours.

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Bitcoin plunged below $12,000, reaching its lowest level since early December. Ethereum, its biggest rival, fell back toward $1,000, while Ripple bottomed out at $1.23 after peaking above $3 just a few weeks ago.

South Korea Jolts Market

It was mainly regulatory issues that jolted cryptocurrencies on Tuesday, with South Korea mulling new legislation to stamp out excessive risk from the market.

South Korea’s finance minister Kim Dong-yeon reportedly told local radio that an all-out ban on cryptocurrency trading was a “live option, but that government officials still need to “seriously review it.” Seoul’s biggest issue with cryptocurrency trading is the level of speculation in the market and the role of anonymous accounts in spurring volatility. New regulations have already banned anonymous trading on domestic exchanges and barred foreigners from participating in the market.

Last week, some of South Korea’s busiest crypto exchanges were raided by police and tax agents over alleged tax evasion. The raids were confirmed by an employee at Coinone, who spoke to Reuters anonymously.

Seoul’s financial authorities had previously indicated they were investigating six banks that offer cryptocurrency accounts. In addition to speculative risks, authorities are also concerned about the link between cryptocurrency trading and organized crime.

South Korea is a major center for cryptocurrency and is home to some of the largest exchanges. Local traders have been the main catalysts behind some of the crypto market’s biggest gainers, including Ripple.

Some analysts believe that further regulatory crackdown will be ineffective given the borderless nature of cryptocurrencies. When China banned cryptocurrencies, traders there migrated their accounts offshore to Hong Kong or Korea. This suggests that a regulatory crackdown can only succeed with broad international cooperation, which does not exist at the time.

Chinese regulators know that their measures have done very little to limit virtual capital flight from the country. That’s why they are moving to block domestic access to offshore exchanges, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

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. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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NEO Shows Poise While Other Cryptocurrencies Struggle

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NEO has quietly emerged as one of 2018’s best performing cryptocurrencies, defying multiple market selloffs en route to new highs. The so-called Ethereum of China has also carved out a name for itself in the fast-growing ICO market, where it is now among a small handful of blockchains enabling startups to raise capital through the popular crowdfunding model.

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New Record Highs

NEO was the only major cryptocurrency to spike this weekend, even as bitcoin and Ethereum suffered declines. The coin pushed higher on Monday, hitting a new record of $205.46. It would later consolidate around $190 for a gain of 17%.

The latest rally gives NEO a market cap of $11.8 billion, putting it eighth among active cryptocurrencies. Trade volumes over the last 24 hours reached $1.5 billion with 65 million tokens in circulation. The majority of the turnover occurred on just two exchanges: Upbit and Binance.

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With the gain, NEO’s value has appreciated around 120% year-to-date. That’s nearly double the price growth of Ethereum, a comparable platform that recently took back the second seed on the crypto market cap leader board.

Ethereum of China

NEO’s trajectory over the last six months has mirrored Ethereum’s both in terms of value and project development. Its success is partly owed to ether, as both cryptocurrencies are based on smart contracts. NEO differs from Ethereum on several fronts, including the execution of C# code, which makes it more attractive for developers.

Beyond the hype, NEO provides developers with the toolbox to advance the smart economy by digitizing assets and automating the management of those assets through smart contracts. It is perhaps the only cryptocurrency that can succeed in a heavily regulated China, which only recently tightened the noose on cryptocurrency miners as part of its broad offensive against digital assets.

With the exception of Stellar Lumens, NEO is perhaps the only cryptocurrency not named Ethereum that is making inroads into the ICO market. Dozens of token raises have launched on the NEO platform, including 27 in the span of two days. Although China has banned ICOs, there’s a possibility that regulators may one day introduce a centralized model that will allow the government to oversee the entire process.

According to at least one metric, ICOs raised more than $6 billion last year, with December being the most successful month yet with more than $1.6 billion raised.

While this is merely speculation at this point, the Chinese ban on cryptocurrency was initiated just before the 19th National Congress of the National Party. The event, held every five years, is usually a showdown between communists die-hards who want to maintain the old system of central planning and those who are seeking more liberal reforms.

Regardless of China’s regulatory future, NEO appears poised to capitalize on any opportunity involving public blockchain. The company certainly has that ambition, and has shown no issue following national guidelines.

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. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Ripple Crashes to 2018 Lows Amid Lingering Doubts Over South Korean Regulation

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Ripple took the plunge on Monday, falling to its lowest level in nearly three weeks as investors continued to ponder South Korea’s regulatory shakeup of the cryptocurrency market.

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XRP/USD Price Levels

Ripple’s native XRP token touched a session low of $1.47 on Monday, which represented a decline of more than 16%. The coin’s price was last seen hovering at $1.58 for a loss of 10%.

XRP briefly traded at its lowest level since Dec. 29. The token is currently testing the Jan. 11 low of around $1.57.

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At present values, Ripple is capitalized at $62 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s roughly half of Ethereum, the world’s no. 2 digital currency system. Ripple had briefly claimed the second spot in the crypto charts before a brisk selloff knocked it from record highs.

Ripple ran into volatility last week after CoinMarketCap removed several South Korean exchanges from its listing due to “extreme divergences in prices from the rest of the world.” The action prompted a multi-billion-dollar selloff of XRP, which is traded heavily on the Korean peninsula.

Why is Ripple Plunging?

It has been a roller coaster two months for Ripple. The cryptocurrency has managed to distance itself from other altcoins thanks to growing institutional support from major banks, credit cards and clearing houses. News of major partnerships sent XRP north of $3.30 after New Year’s day. The gains were quickly followed by profit-taking that was followed by a sharp correction in the cryptocurrency market.

The latest drop is largely attributed to fears over pending South Korean regulations governing cryptocurrency. Hacked reported earlier that central authorities were looking to shut down anonymous trading on domestic exchanges, not ban cryptocurrencies entirely.

The initial shockwave was triggered by Justice Minister Park Sang-ki, who announced Thursday that his department was proposing a bill to regulate the crypto market. The Korean government later said it was considering a response to what it believes to be excessive speculation, but had not reached a decision.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Ripple’s record-breaking gains have been largely driven by South Korean trade desks. Of the nearly $2 billion in XRP tokens transacted Monday, roughly 55% were traded using the won, according to CoinMarketCap. Bithumb continues to be the biggest platform for XRP trades, followed by Upbit and HitBTC. Bithumb and Upbit are both based in South Korea.

It hasn’t been entirely negative for Ripple. The company recently announced a partnership with MoneyGram that will provide the remittance firm with instant liquidity. The partnership appears to be a pilot program, with MoneyGram testing XRP payment flows via xRapid, the cryptocurrency’s blockchain solution for real-time liquidity.

XRP has the ability to settle transactions within seconds, thereby enabling faster cross-border flows. Its potential is currently being explored across Asia’s financial district, giving XRP the unofficial distinction of being the banker’s cryptocurrency.

Ripple’s fundamentals as a transaction agent suggest it still has room to grow in a highly diverse cryptocurrency market. There’s also speculation that U.S.-based exchange Coinbase is considering XRP for its platform. The exchange only supports four cryptocurrencies at the moment, including bitcoin, Ethereum, bitcoin cash and Litecoin.

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. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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