Bitcoin and Ether rise, helping take crypto space above $150 billion market cap

The price of digital currency bitcoin rose on Wednesday, putting it on track for a second straight daily increase, a rally that took total market capitalization of the entire cryptocurrency space above $150 billion.

Ether, the chief rival to bitcoin, which runs on the Ethereum network, also rose on Wednesday, and hit its highest level since June.

A single bitcoin rose 3.1% to $4,264.26. The move brings bitcoin’s year-to-date rally above 340%. However, it remains about 5% below an all-time intraday high above $4,500 hit on Aug. 17. At current levels, bitcoin’s market capitalization is about $69.8 billion, making it more than twice as large as Ether, its nearest competitor.

Trading in bitcoin has been volatile lately. At its low of the day on Tuesday, bitcoin was briefly pushed into correction territory, defined as a drop of at least 10% from a recent peak. The moves for bitcoin come as the industry has tackled so-called scaling issues, which are intended to increase transaction sizes in the blockchain network. Traditional bitcoin participants have coalesced around a new protocol known as Segregated Witness, or SegWit., which they believe solves bitcoin’s scaling issue.

Bitcoin Cash, an offspring created in response to bitcoin’s transaction-size issue, rose 0.3% to $664.95 on Tuesday, bringing its market cap to nearly $11 billion.

Ether on Wednesday rose 0.4% to $324.07, its highest level since June 23. While it remains below an all-time intraday high above $400 hit on June 12, it has more than doubled from a recent intraday low hit in mid-July. For 2017 overall, it is up more than 4,000%, bringing its market cap to $30.1 billion.

The recent gains in bitcoin, along with the recovery in Ether, brought the total market capitalization of all cryprtocurrencies above $150 billion, according to CoinMarketCap, a pricing and data website. The asset class first broke above $100 billion in early June, meaning the space has risen by half in a little more than two months.