Cryptocurrency ether broke past $3,000 on Monday to set a new record high in a dazzling rally that has outshone the bigger bitcoin, as investors bet that ether will be of ever greater use in a decentralised future financial system.
Ether , the token transacted on the ethereum blockchain, rose 3 per cent on the Bitstamp exchange to $3,051.99 by lunchtime in Asia. It is up more than 300% for the year so far, easily outpacing a 95 per cent rise in the more popular bitcoin.
In part, the big rally is a catch-up to late 2020 gains in bitcoin, said James Quinn, managing director at Q9 Capital, a Hong Kong cryptocurrency private wealth manager.
It also reflects improvements to the ethereum blockchain, he said, and a growing shift towards “DeFi”, or decentralised finance, which refers to transactions outside traditional banking for which the ethereum blockchain is a crucial platform.
“But as the rally has matured over the last six months, you have DeFi and a lot of DeFi is built on ethereum.”
The launch of ether exchange-traded funds in Canada and surging demand for ether wallets to transact non-fungible tokens such as digital art have also pushed up the price.
The ether/bitcoin cross rate has soared more than 100 per cent this year and hit a 2.5-year high on Sunday, pointing to a degree of rotation into the second-biggest cryptocurrency as investors diversify their exposure.
Illustrating the momentum for such new transactions, Bloomberg reported last week that the European Investment Bank plans on issuing a digital bond over the Ethereum blockchain, while JP Morgan plans a managed bitcoin fund. read more
Bitcoin , the world’s biggest crypto asset with more than $1 trillion in market capitalisation, regained the $50,000 mark last week and hovered around $58,000 on Monday, up about 3 per cent but well below its record high at $64,895.22.
The US dollar was broadly steady.