Cardano stood out over the weekend with its native cryptocurrency ADA reaching a new all-time high of US$2.46 even as most of the crypto market remained engulfed in a sea of red, with the entire cryptocurrency market losing over US$300 billion in value.

Ranked number 6 just one week ago, Cardano (ADA) has leapfrogged Dogecoin (DOGE) and Tether (USDT) and is now the 4th largest cryptocurrency in the world with a market cap of US$70 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

Cardano’s price surge comes as Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, shed 26% of its value over the past week. Other major cryptocurrencies have taken a nosedive in value as well. Ethereum — which still currently operates as a proof-of-work (POW) blockchain — has fallen from its all-time high of US$4,360 May 12 to US$3,290 at the time of writing. Binance Coin (BNB), Dogecoin (DOGE) and Ripple’s XRP are also dipping dramatically, by 24%, 10% and 13.7% respectively.

Breaking above US$2 for the first time on May 15, Cardano’s native token ADA kept rising as market sentiment towards some cryptocurrencies continued to sour, following recent news that Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk is looking for more energy-efficient alternatives to Bitcoin and now no longer accepts BTC as payments for the purchase of his company’s vehicles. 

Another factor in the deepening crypto correction could be the news about a possible U.S. Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service investigation into Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange — raising concerns in the crypto market about a potential tax and regulatory backlash.

Musk’s environmental concerns about Bitcoin — though criticized by other prominent crypto personalities as being misinformed or misguided — may be one reason that the much more energy-efficient proof-of-stake (PoS) cryptocurrencies like Cardano and Polygon (MATIC) have continued to see major price growth. 

Polygon’s MATIC is one of the few cryptocurrencies in the green today, up 1.5% in the last 24 hours and over 70% for the week.

Cuban and Hoskinson talk on ADA

As meme-investment continues to drive cryptocurrency markets, Cardano may have gotten a boost over the weekend when billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban voiced his interest in ADA on social media.

The Dallas Mavericks owner engaged in a Twitter conversation with Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson on May 15 to discuss the ADA coin’s utility. Cuban, who along with Elon Musk has been responsible for much of the attention shown to Dogecoin, asked Hoskinson what ADA could actually be used for.

Hoskinson responded with a brief but detailed pitch in one tweet, which was later followed up with a 12-minute video to further flesh out his response to Cuban.

“The Cardano (ADA) price surge started from the Twitter conversation between Mark Cuban and Charles Hoskinson, founder of Cardano, where they discussed the utilities of ADA.” Toya Zhang, COO of AAX Exchange told Forkast.News in an interview.  

Entrepreneurs publicly talking up certain cryptos is becoming more prevalent, Zhang added. “It is generally positive for crypto education, especially in Cardano’s case.”

Given the fickleness of the markets and pump and dump culture associated with other celebrity-backed coins — Dogecoin being the most famous example — Zhang added: “It would be great if there is a way to lock these celebrities’ investment to these tokens for a committed period of time, considering the scale of their influence. Or else, it is healthier for the project to popularize at its own pace.”

Cardano’s expansion

May 2021 may be a period that will go down in Cardano ADA’s history books, as the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap continues surging to new all-time highs in the past two weeks alone. Cardano’s latest ATH was reached on Sunday, when ADA prices peaked at $2.46, according to CoinMarketCap.

Cardano is also slated to launch its Alonzo hard fork this month, which will mark the end of the Shelley era — the network’s move to complete decentralization — and the blockchain’s entrance into the Goguen era, which is around the halfway mark on the network’s roadmap.  

Cardano’s Goguen era is set to implement secure smart contract functionality into Cardano’s blockchain and will be based on the Plutus custom build programming framework.

The upgrade — which will happen with the upcoming Alonzo hard fork — will be an important development for Cardano as the introduction of smart contracts will finally give developers the tools necessary to build decentralized finance (DeFi) DApps and provide non-fungible token (NFT) services using the Cardano blockchain in a space currently dominated by Ethereum.

While Cardano is already capable of faster transactions at much lower fees than Ethereum, the blockchain’s upcoming smart contract capabilities could be a tipping point for Cardano, analysts say, especially as Ethereum’s transition into a proof-of-stake network has faced several major delays.  

Despite the Ethereum blockchain undergoing big upgrades in 2021 with the Berlin fork completed and the London hard fork set for July that are improving scalability, lowering gas fees  and allowing transactions to be more affordable —  many rival blockchain platforms are on the rise, including Polkadot, Solana, Binance Smart Chain and now Cardano.

In addition, the parent company of Cardano — Input Output Hong Kong — has recently partnered with World Mobile Group to democratize access to digital, financial and social services in Africa through its blockchain digital identity solution Atala Prism, starting in Tanzania.

IOHK also announced this week that it has partnered with the Ethiopian government to create a system to track student performance in local schools on the Cardano blockchain.  

Cardano next in line for $200 billion market cap

As ADA’s price rallied on Saturday, prominent crypto analyst Benjamin Cowen tweeted a poll asking the crypto community: “What crypto will be the third coin to make it to $200B market cap?”

The poll, which has garnered nearly 15,000 votes, found Cardano’s ADA to be the clear favorite to be next in line to surpass the US$200 billion milestone — beating out other candidates Binance Coin (BNB), Dogecoin (DOGE) and Ripple-created XRP. Cardano’s ADA is leading the poll with 59% of the votes, with Binance Coin in second, with 23.1%.

At the time of publication, ADA has bounced from its daily low of US$2.01, back up to US$2.20 with Cardano’s market capitalization now well over US$70 billion.