Ether passes JPMorgan and Visa to record $500bn market cap milestone

Ether has reached a market capitalisation of more than $500bn, making the cryptocurrency worth more than financial heavyweights like JPMorgan and Visa.

Its value rose to as much as $505bn on 12 May, before falling back slightly.

JPMorgan’s market capitalisation was around $480bn before US markets opened, while Visa was at $496bn.

The second largest cryptocurrency hit a record high early in the day, taking its gains so far this year to almost 480% against the dollar. The coin was valued at $4,310.75 as of 1:51pm BST on 12 May, having risen more than 9% in the last 24 hours.

Bitcoin, ether’s much larger rival, passed the $500bn milestone in late December before rising to $1trn by February, according to data from Coindesk.

It sat at roughly $56,470 on 12 May, having increased its value by around 94% against the dollar this year.

Ether has benefited from a major boom in demand for its network’s ability to handle smart contracts and other blockchain-based products, particularly as the preferred currency and network for the sale of non-fungible tokens.

READ NFT gold rush sees platforms boom as Jay-Z, Mark Cuban pile in

JPMorgan itself had commented on ether’s potential days earlier, as analysts said in a note to clients that the cryptocurrency had become overhyped. The team of analysts, led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, said ether’s price should be trading more than 76% lower at around $1,000.

The note suggested that retail investors had begun piling into the cryptocurrency too early, Business Insider reported, following promising signs from institutions such as the European Investment Bank in supporting the Ethereum network.

The EIB launched its first-ever digital bond using Ethereum last month alongside Goldman Sachs, Société Générale and Santander, while other financial institutions are weighing up how they could use the protocol for decentralised finance applications.

READ Billionaires and blockchain – What’s behind the rise of Ethereum?

SoftBank’s chief executive Masayoshi Son said earlier on 12 May that he was unsure whether or not cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether have a future, despite corporates such as Tesla and Square adding billions of dollars’ worth of crypto to their portfolios.

“There’s a lot of discussion over if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, what’s the true value or is it in a bubble – honestly speaking, I don’t know,” Son said at SoftBank’s earnings press conference, Bloomberg reported.

However, Son added that there is “no need to reject” the cryptocurrency either. “We are always having such internal discussions,” he added.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Emily Nicolle