The cryptocurrency market has topped $1 trillion for the first time in its 12-year history, boosted by bitcoin hitting a new all-time high on Thursday.
The combined market capitalisation of all cryptocurrencies now greater than the combined value of payments giants Mastercard and Visa.
Bitcoin has driven the market’s revival, rising in price from below $5,000 last March to above $37,000 today.
The world’s biggest cryptocurrency saw its market cap briefly rise above $700 billion, according to CoinMarketCap, before dipping to around $690 billion at the time of writing.
Other major cryptocurrencies have also experienced massive gains in recent months, including ethereum (ether), litecoin and bitcoin cash.
There appears to be broad consensus among many market analysts and cryptocurrency experts that bitcoin’s current price rally may be far from over.
It is the third great bull run in bitcoin’s history, with previous market surges in 2013 and 2017 lasting between 18 and 36 months.
“I believe that bitcoin has not given it everything it’s got quite yet,” Konstntin Anissimov, executive director of London-based cryptocurrency exchange CEX.IO, told The Independent.
“The coin’s past behaviour indicates that the cycle is still far from over, and I expect that bitcoin… can hit $50,000 by the end of this quarter. If it does, it would also not be surprising for its price to continue going forward, as the number is bound to attract more institutional and retail investors alike.”
Both previous price rallies were followed by painful corrections, which saw bitcoin retreat to around 15 per cent of its peak value.
The cryptocurrency’s volatility was recently demonstrated by a flash crash that saw $6,000 wiped from its value in a matter of hours, however it quickly recovered. Some analysts believe more instability could follow in the short term as bitcoin’s price rises, before a major market dip either later this year or in 2022.
“I believe we are going [to continue seeing] new all-time highs, but I wouldn’t completely rule out another price drop beforehand,” said Simon Peters, a senior analyst at the online investment platform eToro.
“If we do see a dump of bitcoin from larger investors, then we could see the price fall back to the $20,000-$23,000 range.”