Bitcoin’s market cap crossed $300 billion on Friday ahead of the launch of futures contracts on U.S. derivatives exchange CME. As a result of this rally, bitcoin is now the world’s 15th most valuable liquid currency, as measured by the M1 narrow money supply.
Bitcoin achieved this historic milestone on Friday morning, following a rally that raised the bitcoin price to a new all-time high of $18,111 on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex. This represented a single-day increase of nearly $2,000.
The global average bitcoin price rose somewhat higher, thanks to large premiums on Bithumb and other South Korean exchanges. At the time of writing, Korean exchanges priced bitcoin more than $1,000 higher than many exchanges that offer direct trading against the U.S. dollar.
The rally is likely connected to the impending launch of bitcoin futures on CME. Although fellow Chicago exchange CBOE listed futures this week, CME is much larger, so its products are expected to attract more attention from institutional investors.
At $300 billion, bitcoin is now the world’s 15th largest currency, as measured by the M1 money supply, a classification that measures the value of physical currency in circulation, as well as liquid bank deposits.
Bitcoin is more valuable than the circulating currencies of both Hong Kong and India, and it is just a few billion dollars behind that of Saudi Arabia. However, bitcoin faces a steep climb before it can enter the top 10; the 10th spot currently belongs to Canada, whose M1 money supply totals $637 billion.
Now, critics will point out — correctly, to some extent — that the M1 classification provides a very narrow view of a currency’s total valuation, as well as the fact that, at present, bitcoin is far less liquid than other currencies of comparable size.
Nevertheless, even conceding these facts, there is one thing that the chart makes clear: cryptocurrencies are an asset class that can no longer be ignored.