The famously surging price of bitcoin is pulling up the value of other cryptocurrencies with similarly rapid speed.
Bitcoin has risen tremendously quickly in recent months, leading to unprecedented interest in the digital currency. Other cryptocurrencies are now seeing the same vast rises, in some cases beating bitcoin.
The interest in and value of both the ethereum and litecoin cryptocurrencies have surged so much that exchanges are having trouble selling them. Digital currency startup Coinbase, for instance, said that it had been forced to temporarily stop people buying or selling either of the currencies, apparently because of the huge amount of traffic among people wanting to buy them.
Both currencies have seen huge gains in recent weeks, with some of them even set to outpace the rapid – and according to some pundits dangerous – rise of bitcoin.
The surge among other cryptocurrencies appears to be driven by the rising price of bitcoin. That most famous of cryptocurrencies has risen more than 170 per cent over last month, and more than 2,110 per cent over the last year.
A large number of people are thought to be buying the more niche cryptocurrencies in the hope that they'll eventually reach the same price and fame as bitcoin.
The other currencies also help each other's price rise for more technical reasons. Many cryptocurrencies are easier to buy when using other cryptocurrencies, so a price rise in one helps propel activity in others.
All cryptocurrencies use the same fundamental ideas and much of the same technology. None of them exist as actual cash, but rather as part of a distributed electronic ledger – buying cryptocurrency actually means having certain code put into your virtual account, which exists across the world.
Proponents claim that means that the currency can be far more effectively decentralised, and moved away from the control of states. Some critics have argued that same trends make cryptocurrency helpful for criminal activity, since it is far less easy to trace than more regulated, traditional currency.
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