By Jemima Kelly
LONDON (Reuters) – The aggregate value of all cryptocurrencies hit a record high of over $200 billion on Wednesday, according to industry website Coinmarketcap, putting their reported market value at more than that of U.S. banking giant Citigroup (N:C).
The new record came as the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, bitcoin, hit a record high of $7,500 <BTC=BTSP> on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, after a more than tenfold increase in value over the past 12 months.
That took its own “market cap” – its price multiplied by the number of coins that have been released into circulation – to a record high of more than $120 billion.
The second-biggest cryptocurrency, ether – sometimes known as “Ethereum” after the project behind it – has a market cap of just below $30 billion, with another 1000 or so rival digital currencies making up the rest of the $200 billion.
If the cryptocurrency market were a company, its valuation would put it in the top 25 firms on the S&P 500 (SPX) stock index.
The latest surge in bitcoin was driven by news this week that CME Group (O:CME), the world’s largest derivative exchange operator, would launch bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of the year, as well as speculation that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) could be set to accept the digital currency.
Many are concerned that the market represents a bubble, with the latest warning coming from the head of Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) on Thursday.