Retail buying through PayPal is likely helping push bitcoin’s price higher while traders are hoping to get into an ether options market with potential volatility similar to March 2020.
The price of bitcoin hit another all-time high Wednesday, jumping to $35,735 at 04:00 UTC (11 p.m. ET Tuesday), easily surpassing Jan. 2’s previous record high of $34,366.
And then, after hitting that price zenith, the world’s oldest cryptocurrency settled around the $35,000 level for several hours before heading upward yet again, hitting $36,122 as of press time.
“With a lot of demand from new market participants, both institutional and retail, it is reasonable to assume that we keep going up,” said Michael Gord, chief executive officer of trading firm Global Digital Assets. “A $650 billion market cap is still tiny in comparison to other global currencies or commodities that bitcoin is competing with.”
“In addition to institutions continuing to push the market forward we are starting to see a surge of retail demand as well,” Gord added.
Many funds, , are identifying growth in retail demand via PayPal’s brokerage Paxos, which also owns the itBit exchange and provides liquidity. Since PayPal launched cryptocurrency capabilities for its users, itBit’s BTC volume numbers have increased significantly.
Since the Nov. 13 rollout of cryptocurrency services to all U.S. PayPal users, itBit’s average bitcoin daily volume has been $25.9 million. That’s much higher than the exchange’s comparatively paltry $5.3 million daily average over the past year, according to CoinDesk 20 data.
Of course, bitcoin isn’t the only cryptocurrency out there, and some exhaustion is expected as traders rotate into alternative digital assets, or altcoins, in hopes of capturing big-time gains.
“The altcoin market is becoming more appealing for traders and investors who are looking for large returns,” Jean Baptiste Pavageau, partner at quant trading firm ExoAlpha, told CoinDesk. “We expect to see bitcoin dominance starting to decrease and the altcoin market booming over the next few weeks.”
Indeed, bitcoin’s dominance, its percentage share of the overall crypto market, has dropped 4.6% since Jan. 3.
As traders jump into crypto assets with smaller market capitalizations, bitcoin may see a temporary cooling, according to Global Digital Asset Chief Operating Officer Zachary Friedman. “We should be seeing stronger hands [who don’t sell easily], which may shorten the drawdown. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a retrace of 20% before moving higher,” he said.
The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, (ETH), was up Wednesday, trading around $1,206 and climbing 9.2% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).
Ether derivatives, and options, are instruments traders are now clamoring for. On Deribit, the top venue for ether options, implied volatility, which is the forecast of an asset’s spot price movement, is 170%, according to data aggregator Genesis Volatility.
“These levels haven’t been seen since the March [COVID-19] crisis,” said Greg Mandini, chief executive officer for Genesis Volatility. At that time, ether options’ implied volatility surpassed 230%. The levels this week indicate traders are paying huge premiums to play in the ether options market.
“There is an undeniable FOMO for ETH exposure,” Mandini added. “Combine the effects of staking and CME’s ETH future launch in February we can see strong incentives for institutional capital flowing into ETH.”
Digital assets on the are all green Wednesday. Notable winners as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):