The price of ether (ETH), the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain network, soared to record levels earlier on Tuesday.
Prices hit $1,439.33 around 12:00 UTC – that’s a little over the previous all-time high of $1,432.88 registered on CoinDesk’s price index on Jan. 13, 2018. The digital asset rallied nearly 12% Tuesday to reach the new peak.
Ether first hinted at a coming rally to previously unseen levels earlier this month, but fell victim to a brief market correction triggered by bitcoin‘s pullback from $40,000 to $30,000 last week.
The cryptocurrency has topped its previous bull market peak nearly two months after bitcoin surpassed its December 2017 record price to hit a new high above $41,900 earlier this month.
While ether has trailed bitcoin in its journey to new lifetime highs, it has outpaced the top cryptocurrency on a year-to-date basis with a 92% gain. Bitcoin has risen 27% so far this year.
Ether is also up well over 1,000% since the initial public sale of ETH in 2015, according to Messari.
Ethereum’s value proposition
Ethereum is a blockchain for decentralized applications (dapps) such as prediction markets or trading venues. Dapps operate similarly to regular applications, but inherit features of blockchain-based technologies such as censorship resistance.
The Ethereum blockchain was co-founded and originally described by Russian-Canadian developer Vitalik Buterin, who remains the project’s most well-known personality.
Decentralized finance (DeFi) is widely regarded as the best Ethereum use case to date. DeFi markets enable permissionless and automated lending, trading and borrowing to anyone with an internet connection. The market recently surpassed some $22 billion in total value locked (TVL) – a metric similar to assets under management (AUM).
Read more: The Smart Way to Talk About DeFi’s $22B
DeFi applications typically have their own tokens as well, generally based on Ethereum. That market has enjoyed a second bull run of its own following surging popularity this past summer.
In the long run, Ethereum proponents are positioning the blockchain project to be a censorship-resistant base layer operating in the background of tomorrow’s internet. This concept is generally referred to as Web 3.0, and will knit today’s social networks with integral money systems.
Read more: Ethereum 2.0 Beacon Chain Goes Live as ‘World Computer’ Begins Long-Awaited Overhaul
Ethereum took a significant step towards this goal on Dec. 1 with the release of a new blockchain, the Beacon Chain, which brought in staking – pledging funds to support the network, rather than mining. That upgrade is part one of three in a series of transitions to upgrade the current Ethereum network towards a blockchain capable of handling an entire financial system.
EDIT (15:30 UTC, Jan. 19 2021): Corrected the figure for CoinDesk’s previous all-time high for ether and removed some other price references in the second paragraph.