It’s alt season, y’all. Since the Christmas Crash took place back on December 22, Bitcoin has struggled to regain its former prominence. Crypto’s flagship coin has sputtered in price and lost a significant chunk of its market share, all while the rest of the market has continued a healthy growth pattern after the pre-Christmas dip.
Ringing in the New Year on a High Note
It’s not very often that you see Bitcoin stagnate while the rest of the market is going up. Not even a month ago, analysts were making starry-eyed speculations about Bitcoin’s future, many confident in a US$15,000 valuation by year’s end. This was, of course, during a time when the entire market was in the throes of a bull run that increased crypto’s overall market capitalization from US$200 billion to over US$600 billion in a month and a half. And as we’ve become accustomed to in this wild, wild market, as Bitcoin goes up, alts (usually) follow.
Oh, how times have changed. It now seems like we’re in a new age of altcoin confidence, an era in which alternative currencies are not as tethered to Bitcoin’s successes and failures as they’ve been in the past.
We’re a little over a week out from the flash crash of December 22, Bitcoin is resting at a humble US$14,000, and it’s been trading at between US$13,000 and US$14,000 for the past few days. Meanwhile, Ripple, Ethereum, Cardano, and the top ten’s newest addition, Stellar Lumens, have all peaked to fresh all-time highs in the past week. Meanwhile, the seven-day averages for many of the market’s top 100 are in the green, while some coins have seen gains upwards of 50%.
This recovery has thrown cryptocurrency’s total market cap to new historic levels as well. Yesterday, crypto’s overall net worth eclipsed US$650 billion, overtaking its former all-time high of US$640 billion. Meanwhile, Bitcoin’s market cap is sitting at US$233 billion, a 30% decline from its high of US$333 billion.
In the past, if a correction chipped US$100 billion off Bitcoin’s net worth, the alt market would take a dent with the king of crypto and portfolios the world over would plummet in value.
What’s changed is that over the course of December, Bitcoin’s market dominance dwindled to unprecedented lows. Topping out at a monthly high of 67%, it’s shrunk to 37% at the time of writing, lower than its spread during the alt boom of last summer.
If we compare this share of the market to the beginning of 2017, the difference is staggering. In January of 2017, Bitcoin owned anywhere from 84% to 87% of the cryptocurrency market. As such, it seems entirely logical (if not frustrating) that alts were at Bitcoin’s behest during bull and bear cycles. Bitcoin was steering the ship, so if the market hit a rough patch, the entire market took on water.
As Bitcoin’s market share slips to new lows, however, it’s no longer the only currency rocking the boat. As both Ripple and Ethereum look to climb above US$100 billion market caps, it’s likely that crypto’s star asset will need to learn to share the limelight.
Of course, we have no way of judging how long this alt rally may last or whether or not Bitcoin will retain its market dominance. However, alts are looking particularly confident as we head into the new year, and perhaps this year will usher in a new era of more proportionally-distributed wealth among market assets.