The price of ether, already multiplied by five this year, extended its start to Monday, pushing back the psychological milestone of $ 4,000 for the first time.
Ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain and the second largest in total, hit $ 4,070 shortly after 3:00 p.m. UTC (11:00 p.m. Sunday ET), according to data from CoinDesk 20.
The year-to-date return is now around 435%, compared to around 104% for bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency.
This year’s gains have been fueled by speculation from new entrants into the market betting on so-called decentralized finance, or DeFi, which consists of blockchain-based trading and lending platforms that aim to automate many functions. banks and other traditional financial companies. The Ethereum blockchain serves as the basis for much of DeFi and is also the basis for many non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, another hot trend in the cryptocurrency markets.
Ether’s market cap is now around $ 470 billion, approaching the $ 488 billion market valuation of JPMorgan Chase, America’s largest bank.
Some investors are apparently paying for the ether, as a premium has appeared on the US-based Coinbase exchange over prices listed on other major exchanges, according to Ki Young Ju, CEO of the crypto data firm. CryptoQuant.
Ju told CoinDesk via Telegram that the premium was “significant” with the ether climbing 72% in the two-week period from April 26.
The ether market has gotten so hot that the crypto derivative exchange Deribit has just listed an options contract expiring in March 2022 with a strike price of $ 50,000. The level is so much higher than the current price that the exchange subsequently tweeted that there was “nothing sparkling about registering this strike” and that the decision fell within its “strict listing policy”.
Further excitement has come from the Ethereum blockchain’s plan to move to a ‘proof of stake’ consensus mechanism – how transactions on the network are confirmed – which theoretically will be less power hungry and more scalable than the current ‘ proof of work ”, which is similar to what the Bitcoin blockchain uses.