The cryptocurrency Ripple surged on the final Friday of 2017, reaching a market cap of more than $86 billion, CNBC reports. Ripple, which is officially known as XRP, saw its value rise by 55.9 percent. At its peak, the currency was valued at $2.23 a coin. Since then, it has fallen to $2.17, but it is still the second most valuable cryptocurrency in terms of market cap, according to Coinmarketcap.com.
Ethereum is currently the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency in terms of market share, at over $69 billion. In the early hours of Friday morning, the two cryptocurrencies vied for the second place in a bout of intense trading. Over the weekend, however, the market seems to have stabilized with Ripple in second place. In fact, Reuters reports that XRP saw the largest growth of any cryptocurrency in 2017. The currency’s value soared by 35,000 percent during 2017.
Bitcoin remains firmly entrenched as the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency in terms of market cap and price-per-coin, but there are plenty of alternatives. Ripple is one of the more interesting of the bitcoin alternatives, due to the fact that it is not just a currency, but a payment network and distributed exchange. These qualities make it easier for users to trade Ripple for other currencies such as the dollar or bitcoin.
Ripple actually began as a blockchain-based payment network for banks and other organizations. The coin offers a four-second settlement time compared to the two minutes for Ethereum or over an hour for bitcoin settlements. Currently, more than 100 banks use Ripple’s payment network and more may join soon.
Ripple’s unique qualities mean it has attracted the attention of many wealthy investors including Google Ventures though the majority of the coins are owned by the startup’s founders.
The cryptocurrency market has been extremely volatile lately with bitcoin, in particular, rising and falling in value at a rapid rate. Ripple appears to be on the upswing, however. Of course, this market has proven itself to be rather unpredictable, so tomorrow could see a new shift in the market though, bitcoin will likely remain on top for the foreseeable future.
Update: Updated to reflect the news that XRP saw the largest growth of any cryptocurrency of 2017.