Article by Billy Bambrough
Bitcoin, which many investors and traders are hoping is going to begin 2019 with a bang, has leaped sharply over the last 24 hours, adding some 6% and climbing above the psychological $4,000 mark for the first time this year.
The bitcoin price, which has been languishing at around $3,750 for the last couple of weeks, moved sharply higher after a surge in bitcoin trading volume that sent the original cryptocurrency’s market capitalization up over $70 billion, according to CoinMarketCap data.
Bitcoin, despite being the most widely traded cryptocurrency with trading volume into the billions of dollars every day, still struggles with wild price swings due to so-called market whales moving large volumes of bitcoin at above or below the current market value.
Just ahead of the bitcoin market spike last night a bitcoin whale moved some 2,500 bitcoin (worth just under $10 million) on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, according to the Twitter price tracking bot Whale Alert. The move pushed the daily bitcoin volume up to over $5 billion, a 2019 high.
The jump in the bitcoin price sent the wider cryptocurrency market higher, with ethereum gaining just over 2% over the last 24 hours, while ripple (XRP) added almost 5%.
“A surge of 6.5% in 30 minutes is not entirely uncommon for bitcoin and could very well be caused by a single large order on an exchange or even by a lack of liquidity in the market,” said Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst at brokerage firm eToro. “What’s interesting about this move is that it did bring us above the $4,000 level and so far is holding onto the gains.”
Bitcoin isn’t the only major cryptocurrency to see large holders make big moves lately. Since Friday, more than $273 million in ethereum has been transferred in 21 separate transactions, with 10 of the largest transactions from the crypto exchange Bitfinex to unknown wallets, it was reported today by trade news site the Daily Hodl.
The largest ethereum move was worth almost $19 million.
Meanwhile, the bitcoin price is being supported by news that CoinFlex, originally a part of the U.K. bitcoin exchange Coinfloor, has announced plans to offer physical bitcoin futures to Asian investors next month.
The move by CoinFlex, first reported by the Bloomberg newswire, will put it in direct competition with the New York Stock Exchange and Eris Exchange, both expected to be offering similar contracts soon.
The move to physical bitcoin futures is seen as important to help combat manipulation in the market, with some claiming cash-settled contracts leave unregulated bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets open to abuse.
The chief executive of CoinFlex and co-founder of CoinFloor, Mark Lamb, told Bloomberg CoinFlex will offer futures contracts for bitcoin, bitcoin cash and ethereum that can be leveraged up to 20 times.
“Crypto derivatives could become an order of magnitude larger than spot markets and the main thing that’s holding back that growth is the lack of physical delivery,” Lamb said. “Volumes are reduced because of a problem of trust when it comes to cash-settled trades.”
Elsewhere, bitcoin SV, a fork of the bitcoin cash cryptocurrency, looks close to be falling out of the cryptocurrency top 10 by market capitalization as the likes of tron, cardano, stellar, and litecoin make rapid gains.
Litecoin is up by some 10% over the last 24 hour trading period, leading the field.
Bitcoin SV has struggled with waning volumes and lackluster adoption since its battle with bitcoin ABC for control of the bitcoin cash network last year.
I write about how bitcoin, crypto, and fintech are changing the world.
I am a journalist with significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business around the world. As the founding editor of Verdict.co.uk. I reported on how technology is changing business, political trends, and the latest culture and lifestyle.
I have covered the rise of bitcoin and cryptocurrency since 2012 and have charted its emergence as a niche technology into the greatest threat to the established financial system the world has ever seen and the most important new technology since the internet itself.
I have worked and written for CityAM, the Financial Times, and the New Statesman, amongst others. Follow me on Twitter @billybambrough or email me on billyATbillybambrough.com. Disclosure: I occasionally hold some small amount of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.