Digital currency ethereum climbed Monday to a near two-month high amid renewed uncertainty about the future of bitcoin.
Ethereum traded about 10 percent higher near $330 Monday afternoon, after earlier rising 15 percent to $347.05, its highest since June 23, according to CoinMarketCap. At its session high, the site’s data showed ethereum had gained 70 percent for the month and more than 4,000 percent for the year.
“I think the gains in ethereum are part of the market’s reaction to the increasingly fractured bitcoin community,” said Benjamin Roberts, co-founder and CEO of Citizen Hex, an ethereum-focused start-up backed by three Canadian venture funds.
Ethereum 7-day performance
Bitcoin traded more than 1 percent lower near $4,055.88, according to CoinDesk, well off a record high of $4,522.13 hit last Thursday. Even with the last few days’ decline of about $500, bitcoin remained about 40 percent higher for August and more than quadruple in value for the year.
The decline in price came as digital currency enthusiasts have increasingly focused on the potential of an upgrade proposal called SegWit2x to split bitcoin again in November, just months after its Aug. 1 split into bitcoin and bitcoin cash.
Bitcoin cash traded 15 percent lower near $603, down more than $450 from Saturday’s record high of $1,091.97, according to CoinMarketCap. The bitcoin offshoot still held gains of nearly 200 percent from a low of $210 hit on the day of the split Aug. 1.
Meanwhile, investors gained more confidence in a smooth upgrade for ethereum’s network, a proposal called “Metropolis” expected in the next several weeks that should improve transaction privacy and efficiency.
Other factors contributing to ethereum’s gains Monday included steady demand from South Korean investors and news that London-based online trading company IG also launched support for trading ethereum on Monday.
Trade in South Korean won accounted for about 30 percent of trading in ethereum, according to CryptoCompare. Bitcoin accounted for nearly 29 percent and the U.S. dollar about 25 percent, the site showed.
Traders were also using bitcoin to buy digital currencies such as Monero, a cryptocurrency focused on making transactions confidential and untraceable.
According to CoinMarketCap, Monero surged more than 70 percent Monday to a record high of $95.08, marking gains of nearly 140 percent for the month.