The world’s second-most prominent crypto on Friday touched a fresh record above $ 2,100.
Ether ETHUSD, -1.00%, running atop the ethereum blockchain, were recently up 6% at around $ 2,087 after touching an all-time high at $ 2,105.68 Friday, according to CoinDesk. That is handily above its Feb. 20 record at $ 2,036.55 put.
Gains for the crypto, which is known for its ability to allow smart contracts to be coded into the ethereum protocol, comes as Visa Inc. V, +2.42% has become the first major payment platform to use USD Coin, a stablecoin backed by the U.S. dollar, to settle crypto transactions over the ethereum blockchain.
Visa users will be able to exchange USD Coin over the credit card’s payment network to clear transactions made in fiat currency, a move that is viewed as bridging the gap between traditional currencies and crypto.
The move by the payment processor highlights growing use of decentralized finance applications, largely operating within the ethereum network, to create new, blockchain-related applications that take advantage of smart contracts.
Decentralized finance networks, or DeFi, enable users to conduct transactions without an intermediary and have widely been considered one of the most significant appeals of cryptographic assets.
“Over the last year, more than $ 45 billion worth of user funds have been locked into Ethereum-based applications that fall under this new DeFi category, which seeks to recreate traditional financial products in decentralized ways,” wrote Sergey Nazarov, the co-Founder of Chainlink, a gateway network that allows smart contracts to access real-time data outside their network.
The promise for the utility of smart contracts and DeFi have supported the view held by some that ethereum could one day rival bitcoin prices.
“Basically, there’s a decentralized Wall Street blooming on top of ethereum that’s currently growing faster than any other sector in the entire cryptocurrency industry, and it all requires ETH to function, likely explaining a good portion of the increased attention on the asset,” Nazarov said.
Meanwhile, bitcoin prices BTCUSD, +1.95% were seeing muted trade, changing hands at around $ 58,000, beneath its all-time high at $ 61,556.59, according to CoinDesk.
Optimism around bitcoin and the broader crypto sector has been centered on increased institutional adoption of digital assets as alternatives to gold and other commodities.
On top of that, a report late this week points to an initial public offering of Coinbase Global Inc. COIN, +3.70%, which plans to go public on April 14 under the ticker symbol “Coin” via a direct listing on the Nasdaq Inc. NDAQ, +2.30%
Coinbase founded in 2012 provides crypto trading services for institutional and retail clients and is considered the largest digital exchange platform in the U.S.
Ether has gained 180% so far in 2021, far outstripping bitcoin, up 105%, over the same period. By comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.52% is up over 8%, the S&P 500 index SPX, +1.18% has climbed 7% so far this year, while gold futures GC00, +0.86% are down nearly 9% in the year to date.