Ether, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, rose to a record high as the rally in digital assets continues to broaden beyond Bitcoin.
The digital token for the Ethereum network gained 6.2% on Friday and reached as high as $2,144 on Saturday. It has nearly tripled this year, and first topped $2,000 briefly on an intraday basis in February. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index gained about 3% Friday, while Bitcoin was little changed after more than doubling this year.
“The latest backing from Visa Inc. appears to be giving the bulls a new reason to persist in their stride,” said Konstantin Anissimov, executive director at cryptocurrency exchange CEX.IO. The trend could send Ethereum above $2,100 in the coming days, he said.
Visa said this past week that its payments network will use USD Coin to settle transactions over Ethereum, which has helped boost sentiment. Also, billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban’s comments about owning the digital asset and that it’s closest “to a true currency” have increased interest, in addition to the ongoing upgrade of the network, according to Greg Waisman, co-founder and COO of the global payment network Mercuryo.
The token has mirrored the gains in Bitcoin over the past year amid a flood of stimulus aimed at boosting the global economy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Critics warn that crypto is a speculative bubble that will likely burst.
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Ether has a market value of about $230 billion, compared with about $1.1 trillion for Bitcoin, according to data from CoinMarketCap.com.
“We’re now really breaking higher and that will very likely attract buying activity,” said Julius de Kempenaer, senior analyst at StockCharts.com. “Ether is gaining in relative strength versus Bitcoin.”