Top Two Cryptocurrencies Reach All-Time Highs Over Thanksgiving Weekend
The world’s two leading cryptoassets Bitcoin and Ethereum both soared to record highs versus the dollar in the days following Thanksgiving, with the price of one Bitcoin rocketing past $9,000 for the first time on November 26, and the price of one Ether (Ethereum’s units) similarly passing its own previous record high to peak around $485 on November 27. Both Bitcoin and Ethereum have enjoyed stratospheric appreciation in value over the past year, with Bitcoin’s price rising about 1,300% since November 2016 and Ethereum rising almost 5,500% in the same period.
While some warn that Ethereum and Bitcoin’s explosion in value (as well as the panoply of copycat “altcoins” touting their own unique features and often launching in highly lucrative, unregulated “Initial Coin Offerings” or ICOs ) is indicative of an unsustainable hype-driven “crypto bubble” overdue for a severe correction, Bitcoin and Ethereum’s increase in price this year has mirrored a larger trend of increased interest in the foundational blockchain technology underlying both of the cryptocurrencies.
Blockchain —a computational structure relying on the decentralized activity of many disparate nodes rather than the centralized servers of conventional computer networks— is drawing serious interest from the tech sector’s biggest establishments and newest startups alike, with blockchain’s proposed applications ranging from an overhaul of online banking and finance, to identify protection and supply chain management to even a fundamental restructuring of the online world into a new blockchain-driven “Web 3.0”.
While taking second place in market cap and price behind Bitcoin, the relative newcomer Ethereum seems poised to spearhead the blockchain revolution as the most promising among various public blockchain technologies. While Bitcoin was designed from its inception in 2009 as a store of monetary value and has only recently gained interest in utilizing other ways of using its network —such as distributed storage and micropayments—, Ethereum’s 2015 launch focused on creating a nimble, versatile public blockchain atop which developers could build and employ “Smart Contracts” to create anything from their own Ethereum-based currencies and tokens to the large-scale “decentralized apps” —”Dapps” in crypto parlance— that could fuel the Web 3.0 revolution.
In other words, if Bitcoin was designed from its onset as a decentralized store of value —”digital gold”, if you will— Ethereum was designed instead as a “global computer” with its units of Ether designed to function more as units of “digital gas” corresponding to computing power on Ethereum’s network rather than strictly as stores of value.
The coming days, weeks, and perhaps years will prove whether Bitcoin and Ethereum (read: any number of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies) will truly change how we use money and the Web or if the cryptocurrency boom is merely a 21-st century Tulip Fever, but in any case the past week’s surge in price will doubtless draw the attention of technophiles and crypto virgins alike hoping to investing their interest or dollars in the potentially promising technology (and profits) Bitcoin and Ethereum represent.