Ahead of U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase’s direct listing on Nasdaq starting today, Bitcoin (BTC) reached another all-time high of $64,787.65 during Asian trading hours earlier in the day, according to CoinGecko data.
As of publishing time, Bitcoin’s total market value now stands at US$1.2 trillion, 52% of the total cryptocurrency market of US$2.3 trillion. Bitcoin’s 24-hour trading volume was US$73 billion and its 24-hour price range was US$$62,593.30 to US$64,787.65.
What’s behind Bitcoin’s surge
The Coinbase listing, broader institutional adoption and general media coverage are all driving more retail buyers, Kenneth Bok, a Singapore-based cryptoasset trader and investor, told Forkast.News in an email.
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Cryptocurrency exchanges such as Binance — the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform by trading volume — are not surprised by Bitcoin’s surge. Over the past 24 hours, Binance saw US$4.6 billion of spot Bitcoin trades, four times that of Coinbase Pro’s US$1.1 billion.
“We have been seeing user numbers increase for a while and it’s logical that the price increase should follow, we are just seeing it now. BTC ATH is mostly a sign that more people are in crypto now than before,” said Changpeng (“CZ”) Zhao, co-founder and CEO of Binance in an email to Forkast.News. According to a recent Binance report, over 100 million people are now crypto users compared to just 5.8 million in the second quarter of 2017.
Are we in the market cycle high? Ki Young Ju, chief executive officer of South Korea based blockchain data provider CryptoQuant, took to Twitter to say “No.”
“When the market reaches its peak, everyone deposits BTC to exchanges to sell. # of inflow addresses across all exchanges was at its highest in 2018 Jan, while it hit a three-year low a few days ago,” he tweeted. “People are holding, not selling $BTC.”
Lennix Lai, director of financial markets at cryptocurrency exchange OKEx, told Forkast.News in an interview that it is hard to predict if the market is seeing a top for Bitcoin. There could be a short-term correction as the crypto market is “currently relatively high leverage,” said Lai. But he sees Bitcoin “having a pretty good upside” by the end of the year. “The market as a whole is relatively bullish that Bitcoin is having 100K by the end of the year,” Lai added.
Lucy Gazmararian, founder and managing partner at Hong Kong-based Token Bay Capital told Forkast.News: “Bitcoin is more accessible today than it’s ever been and can be purchased by both retail and institutional investors via regulated exchanges, ATMs, crypto apps with fiat on-ramps and even PayPal.”
“The magnitude of this rally has surpassed all previous ATHs as it is led by institutional demand, which is providing a solid foundation for the price,” Gazmararian said. “The investment horizon for institutions is also not days or months as it can be for retail, but many months or years, and this gives new entrants to the space greater confidence that the rally will be more sustained this time around.”
“Many believe that Bitcoin is the digital gold for Web 3.0 and this infrastructure building has only just started,” she added. “At this early stage, no one is looking to sell what is accepted to be a scarce resource and BTC will play an important role in our new decentralized infrastructure layer. For that reason alone, BTC still has a way to go, particularly if you buy into the digital gold narrative and believe it will be the world’s new global reserve currency.”
See related article: 5 questions investors must ask before buying Bitcoin or digital assets
Ether and altcoins also saw gains
Bitcoin’s price surge is also fuelling the rise of Ether (ETH) and other altcoins — cryptocurrencies that are alternatives to Bitcoin — such as Binance Coin (BNB), XRP, Cardano (ADA) and Dogecoin (DOGE). ETH, ADA and DOGE also reached new ATHs during Asian trading hours today.
Lockstep with Bitcoin, Ether — the second largest cryptocurrency by market value — also saw a new all-time high of US$2,392.53 today, ahead of its upcoming major upgrade called “Berlin” later today, which will optimize the usage of gas fees and mitigate against possible denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks.
XRP prices rose by more than 10% in trading today, buoyed by Ripple and its executives’ recent legal victories over discovery in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against them.
Along with the bullish sentiment for Bitcoin and Ether, retail investors across Asia are pouring into altcoins.
“A rise in Bitcoin prices generally leads to upward price movements for most altcoins in the market and retail trading volume tends to pick up concurrently,” Yusho Liu, chief executive officer and co-founder of Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinhako, told Forkast.News in an email. “As many altcoins tend to have a lower coin price than Bitcoin, these coins may seem more accessible to retail traders as well.”
Louis Li, co-founder of CoinUnited, a cryptocurrency OTC trading company that also operates Bitcoin ATMs in Asia, said: “More people bought Ethereum, or missed out on buying Ethereum, and switched their investment to other altcoins. And we’ve seen recently, Binance Coin rise exponentially.”
The “kimchi premium” — the difference in cryptocurrency prices in South Korean exchanges compared to other exchanges located globally — extends beyond Bitcoin to altcoins such as XRP, which traded above the US$2.10 mark in that country, or more than 15% higher than its US$1.84 global price outside of Korea at publishing time.
Park Janghyo, a Korean hair artist told Forkast.News in an interview: “I believe the crypto market will continue to grow so I believe altcoins that have yet to increase have higher potential — Luna coin, EOS, Bitcoin Cash, XRP, and Stellar Lumens.”
Lim Hyeonjun, a Korean office worker told Forkast.News in an interview that “I went all in on Ethereum. Nowadays, we use crypto like Milk Coin or Paycoin to buy food like Domino’s Pizza.”
Crypto experts say the rise in Bitcoin alternatives is likely to continue. “The significant increase in BTC’s price has spilled across into all other areas of crypto assets including altcoins,” said Gazmararian of Token Bay Capital. “Bitcoin has captured the world’s imagination and once you dig a little into the concept, you quickly discover its uniqueness and are naturally drawn deeper into the space to uncover the sandbox of innovation.”
Bok, the cryptoasset trader, echoed those views. “Once one starts owning BTC, it is a natural extension to start interacting with other elements in the ecosystem with buying other types of cryptoassets, onboarding onto more crypto-native exchanges, and self-custody.” Bok said. “The technology becomes more apparent when one interacts personally in the crypto-ecosystem.”
See related article: Asian governments urge ‘extreme caution’ before buying cryptocurrency
Lucas Cacioli, Ryan Chang and Yohan Yun contributed to reporting.