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The Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple (XRP) prices have each raced to an all time high as the two cryptocurrency heavyweights vie for the silver podium in the cryptocurrency market cap rankings.

Ethereum and Ripple Vie for Second Place in the Market Cap Rankings

Long thought to be the cryptocurrency with the best chance to supplant bitcoin as the cryptoasset king, Ethereum boasted the second largest market cap for the vast majority of 2017 (Ripple briefly achieved that mark in May, while bitcoin cash held it for a fleeting moment in November).

ethereum price
Legend: Ethereum (Purple), Ripple (Blue), Bitcoin Cash (Green) | Source: CoinMarketCap

However, in December the Ripple price entered a meteoric ascent that only seemed to intensify as time passed, and on Dec. 29 Ripple unseated Ethereum as the second most valuable cryptocurrency.

Ethereum reclaimed that position for a brief period on Jan. 2, but Ripple quickly resumed its rally and moved back into second before the end of the day.

Ethereum, Ripple Prices Race to All-Time Highs as Competition Intensifies

At this point, the competition really began to heat up as both cryptocurrencies set multiple all-time highs during mid-week trading.

On Thursday, the Ripple price reached as high as $3.53 on Bittrex, raising its circulating market cap to $148.9 billion and making Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen the eighth-richest person in the world — at least on paper.

ripple price
Source: TradingView

Ripple’s dramatic rally accompanied several partnership announcements involving banks and credit card issuers in South Korea and Japan.

Nevertheless, these blockchain trials do not involve the XRP currency itself, making the pace of the rally somewhat inexplicable, although its continuation is likely the product of the mainstream coverage it has received in the financial press — particularly at a time when the bitcoin price has been more or less stagnant

The Ethereum price, meanwhile, touched the historic $1,000 checkpoint on Coinbase, briefly lifting its market cap to a new all-time high of $101.1 billion, making it just the third cryptocurrency to achieve a $100 billion market cap.

ethereum price
Source: TradingView

Ethereum’s move is likely tied to the recent announcement that Casper, a consensus algorithm that will enable the network to transition to proof-of-stake (PoS), had entered alpha testing.

By the time of writing, both Ripple and Ethereum had ebbed significantly from their high-water marks, reducing their market caps to $124.3 billion and $99.4 billion, respectively, according to the BlockExplorer Market Cap Index.

The jostle for cryptocurrency’s silver podium, however, remains as heated as ever.

Featured Image from Pexels

This article was written with contributions from Isaac Rockett.

While Bitcoin’s meteoric rise of over 1,000 percent in value has made big headlines, it wasn’t one of the top five best performing cryptocurrencies in 2017. Ripple (XRP) was the highest performing, with a 36,018 percent rise in value. The other virtual currencies in the top five were NEM, Ardor, Stellar and Dash. This ranking compares the value of cryptoassets (both cryptocurrencies and tokens issued on the Ethereum blockchain). The Bitcoin price rise was ranked No. 13.

Ripple 2017 year gain: 36,018 percent

Ripple is a payment system that serves financial institutions. Its technology is designed to enable quick payment options, even across international borders. It launched in 2012 and is self-advertised as having a “five-year track record of stable technology and governance.” Public interest in Ripple increased notably at the close of 2017 as news spread about its growing list of partnerships with traditional financial institutions such as American Express.

NEM 2017 year gain: 29,842 percent

NEM (“New Economy Movement”) launched its blockchain technology and cryptocurrency XEM in 2014. The NEM “smart asset system” is designed to offer many services; it can manage financial assets or store transactions and records such as notarizations, supply chains and ownership records. It can also be used to launch new cryptocurrencies or tokens. Notably, in 2017, Hitachi partnered with Tech Bureau to adopt the NEM-based Mijin Blockchain platform to handle merchants’ membership loyalty programs. NEM’s 2017 growth was 29,842 percent.

Ardor 2017 year gain: 16,809 percent

Ardor (ARDR) is a blockchain platform built on technology from Nxt that launched in 2017. It offers a parent and child architecture in which companies can build Ardor-based services and products on the child chain that are secured by the main chain. Child chain data is “pruned to reduce the size of the blockchain,” which allows Ardor to be fast and scalable. Also, it attributes some of it efficiency to running on a proof-of-stake consensus, which eliminates mining competition. Its value rose 16,809 in 2017.

Stellar 2017 year gain: 14,441 percent

Stellar (XLM) is a global financial blockchain network that focuses on offering quick payment processing and low fees. It was founded in 2014. In 2017, Stallar.org joined IBM and a network of banks to launch a blockchain banking initiative in countries including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga. Stellar focuses on providing innovative banking solutions and financial access, “in particular to the more than 2.5 billion unbanked people in emerging markets across the world.” It also launched the Stellar Partnership Grant Program in 2017, through which it plans to give out millions in USD grants to organizations who will use its technology to “to improve the financial landscape and promote financial inclusion.” Stellar saw a 14,441 percent increase in value in 2017.

Dash 2017 year gain: 9,265 percent

The cryptocurrency and digital money system Dash (“digital cash”) offers private, instant payments with low fees that are based on a global blockchain network. Dash launched in 2014. It’s value rose 9,265 percent in 2017, when it made headlines for launching a blockchain research lab in partnership with Arizona State University. It also partnered up with digital payments provider, Alt Thirty Six, with an aim to serve “cannabis customers, merchants and vendors,” who are often in need of additional financial programs due to a dearth of conventional banking support.

Following these top five performing cryptocurrencies were Ethereum, Golem, Binance Coin, Litecoin and Omise GO.

As the end of 2017 has passed, let us look back at the work done on the top 25 cryptocurrencies reference implementations in 2017. Most people are looking at market cap to get a good idea to see how well a cryptocurrency is doing. Another good thing to look at is the number of commits to the project, as this shows developer activity and that the cryptocurrency is being improved, which could theoretically lead to further development and market gains.

 

Bitcoin

Ticker: BTC

Commits in 2017: 1925

Commits last month: 90

Top contributor last month: Matt Corallo

 

Ripple

Ticker: XRP

Commits in 2017: 271

Commits last month: 37

Top contributor last month: Brad Chase

 

Ethereum

Ticker: ETH

Commits in 2017: 833

Commits last month: 67

Top contributor last month: Péter Szilágyi

 

Bitcoin Cash

Ticker: BCH

Commits in 2017: 1101

Commits last month: 120

Top contributor last month: deadalnix

 

Litecoin

Ticker: LTC

Commits in 2017: 1299

Commits last month: 0

 

IOTA

Ticker: MIOTA

Commits in 2017: 1167

Commits last month: 43

Top contributor last month: Alon Elmaliah

 

NEM

Ticker: XEM

Commits in 2017: 49

Commits last month: 4

 

Dash

Ticker: DASH

Commits in 2017: 385

Commits last month: 371

Top contributor last month: Wladimir J. van der Laan

 

Stellar Lumens

Ticker: XLM

Commits in 2017: 444

Commits last month: 98

Top contributor last month: Rafał Malinowski

 

Monero

Ticker: XMR

Commits in 2017: 1199

Commits last month: 129

Top contributor last month: moneromooo-monero

 

NEO

Ticker: NEO

Commits in 2017: 99

Commits last month: 27

 

 

EOS

Ticker: EOS

Commits in 2017: 1450

Commits last month: 200

Top contributor last month: Kevin Heifner

 

Qtum

Ticker: QTUM

Commits in 2017: 1233

Commits last month: 137

 

 

Ethereum Classic

Ticker: ETC

Commits in 2017: 952

Commits last month: 157

Top contributor last month: ia

 

Lisk

Ticker: LSK

Commits in 2017: 2179

Commits last month: 303

Top contributor last month: Oliver Beddows

 

OmiseGo

Ticker: OMG

Commits in 2017: 62

Commits last month: 7

Top contributor last month: Weerasak Chongnguluam

 

BitShares

Ticker: BTS

Commits in 2017: 289

Commits last month: 21

Top contributor last month: zhuliting

 

Zcash

Ticker: ZEC

Commits in 2017: 503

Commits last month: 39

Top contributor last month: str4d

 

Stratis

Ticker: STRAT

Commits in 2017: 1057

Commits last month: 90

Top contributor last month: Aprogiena

 

ByteCoin

Ticker: BCN

Commits in 2017: 10

Commits last month: 0

Image from bytecoin wiki

DogeCoin

Ticker: DOGE

Commits in 2017: 8

Commits last month: 8

Top contributor last month: Ross Nicoll

Image from dogecoin github

SiaCoin

Ticker: SC

Commits in 2017: 1493

Commits last month: 121

Top contributor last month: Christopher Schinnerl

 

Steem

Ticker: STEEM

Commits in 2017: 452

Commits last month: 147

Top contributor last month: Michael Vandeberg

Augur

Ticker: REP

Commits in 2017: 3549

Commits last month: 197

Top contributor last month: Stephen Sprinkle

If you use Reddit, you may know that tip bots such as /u/tippr allow you to tip fellow redditors, in /u/tippr’s case, with BCH. Another Reddit bot has recently been discovered that attempts to gain access to Reddit accounts that have sent tips, and if successful, transfer out any balance the account may have with tip bots to the bitcoin cash address: 1Dn1uint1pMTrNXGyE3hQzyL6FJ8jpS1SD. Here are the methods with which you can secure your Reddit account against attackers. Obviously, protecting your Tippr BCH tips is only one benefit of having a secure Reddit password.

Use a secure Reddit password

 

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/password_strength.png

Image from XKCD

Secure passwords will always help improve security. When choosing a password, length is better than most other security practices.  Otherwise, make sure that you do not use birthdays or things linked to you personally.

Use two-factor authentication on your account

Two-factor authentication means that when trying to log into your account, you are required to input a randomly generated, one-time use code alongside their password, this is accomplished using any two-factor authentication application that supports Time-based One-Time Password Protocol,  the Android and iOS apps Authy and Google Authenticator are recommended. You can read the full two-factor authentication setup guide here and there is a short explanation of enabling two-factor authentication below.

Enabling two-factor authentication requires you to be a subreddit moderator. You can become a subreddit moderator by creating your own subreddit. If you are a subreddit moderator you can find the option to enable 2FA on your preferences page. Reddit will ask you to confirm your email and password during the process of enabling two-factor authentication.

Featured image from Wikipedia

bitcoin exchange

The director of a UK-based bitcoin exchange kidnapped earlier this week has been released after he paid his captors a ransom of more than $1 million in bitcoins.

Pavel Lerner, 40, was kidnapped on December 26 while leaving his office in Kiev, Ukraine. According to local media reports, a group of men wearing balaclavas grabbed him and forced him into a black Mercedes-Benz.

uk bitcoin exchange
Photo from Pavel Lerner’s Facebook Page

Lerner is an executive at EXMO, a UK-based cryptocurrency exchange that processes approximately $100 to $125 million in trades on a daily basis, primarily against the US dollar and the Russian ruble.

After spending nearly two days in captivity, Lerner was released on December 28 after paying a ransom of more than $1 million in bitcoins, according to a report in the Financial Times.

“He was kidnapped by an armed gang for the purpose of extorting bitcoins,” Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukranian official, told the publication, adding: “We have operative information that he paid more than $1m worth of bitcoins.”

Geraschenko said that Lerner was in a “state of shock” when he was released and was “very lucky that he remained alive.”

On Thursday — while Lerner was in captivity — EXMO revealed that it had been the subject of a DDOS attack, but it is not known whether the two incidents are related. The exchange assured users that, even in Lerner’s absence, the trading platform was operating as usual and that user funds remained safe.

As BlockExplorer explained its previous article on Lerner’s kidnapping, the incident is the latest in a small but growing trend of individuals being targeted by criminals for their cryptocurrency wealth.

Because decentralized cryptocurrency transactions are uncensorable and, in most cases, users retain control of their holdings, cryptocurrency executives and investors prove to be attractive targets for criminal enterprises.

Consequently, users should recognizing the risks of publicizing both their personal holdings and their affiliation with the industry in general and take steps to secure their investments against theft, just as they would with traditional assets.

Featured Image from Pexels