What a crazy ride 2017 was for anyone holding some bitcoin. Around November, I finally located the fraction of one that I had forgotten about sometime in mid-2014 and watched as the cryptocurrency's value nearly hit $20,000 in December before dropping by nearly half to its current (still remarkable) price.
Bitcoin and many other so called "alt-coins" like Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, and hundreds of other digital currencies (ranging from potentially revolutionary to scammy cash grabs) underwent a painful price correction in January following dizzying exponential growth in 2017.
Many of these cryptocurrencies are still worth several times what they were a year ago, despite being down roughly 40 to 70 percent from their highest prices in many cases.
But the second-largest cryptocurrency, measured by total market cap, has been defying the trend of the last month and is once again approaching a record high price while most others languish and stumble side to side.
Ethereum's ether token was trading for over $1,200 on the Coinbase exchange Sunday, coming within striking distance of the all-time high of $1,338 set last month. Meanwhile, bitcoin's price has tumbled all the way back to the $11,000 range. When bitcoin first touched that price during its meteoric run-up in November and December, Ethereum was trading for just around $500.
In other words, traders seem to think Ethereum is the major cryptocurrency most deserving of insane growth in price over the past several months.
There's certainly a case to be made for Ethereum and ether's success. Unlike bitcoin, which is designed to serve solely as a currency, Ethereum's blockchain is more powerful, acting as a platform upon which all sorts of applications can be run. In fact, a number of other cryptocurrencies are what are known as ERC20 tokens that actually operate within the Ethereum ecosystem.
So the future could be especially bright for Ethereum. That is, of course, unless you're one of those people who sometimes worries that the whole cryptocurrency bubble may be about to pop.