© Reuters. A Bitcoin and Dollar notes are seen in this illustration picture© Reuters. A Bitcoin and Dollar notes are seen in this illustration picture

By Jemima Kelly

LONDON (Reuters) – The aggregate value of all cryptocurrencies hit a record high of around $184 billion on Wednesday, according to industry website Coinmarketcap, making their reported market value worth around the same as that of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) combined.

The new peak came as the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, bitcoin, hit a record high of more than $6,500 . That took its own “market cap” – its price multiplied by the number of coins that have been released into circulation – to a record high just shy of $110 billion.

The latest surge in bitcoin – which has seen an eye-watering increase of almost 800 percent in the past 12 months – was driven by news on Tuesday that CME Group (O:CME), the world’s largest derivative exchange operator, would launch bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of the year.

The announcement was seen as a major step in the digital currency’s path toward legitimacy and mainstream financial adoption.

The second-most valuable cryptocurrency Ether – sometimes known as “Ethereum”, after the project behind it – was trading slightly down on the day at $302 per coin, having hit a record high of more than $410 in June.

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