The war of words between the U.S. and North Korea has raised demand for cryptocurrencies at the expense of traditional “safe” havens such as U.S. Treasuries and gold.
Ron Chernesky, CEO of InvestFeed Inc., a trading platform that is switching from equity to cryptocurrency trades, said investors are transferring to cryptocurrencies to diversify their risk should there be a market downturn. He said cryptocurrencies have moved from a niche space to one that is more widely accepted since they are less correlated to other assets.
Koreans are seeking refuge in Ethereum, which saw its trading volume jump to $2.6 billion on Wednesday, marking a 60% gain over bitcoin’s. This marks the second time Ethereum’s trading volume has surpassed bitcoin’s, according to The South China Morning Post.
Much of Ethereum’s gain has been driven by South Korean buying. The Korean won comprises more than 40% of Ethereum trading volume, making it the highest among currency pairs, according to coinmarketcap.com. Ethereum jumped 4% on Thursday to $304, the highest since June.
Bitcoin, for its part, surpassed the $3,000 mark for the first time this week when it reached $3,486.73, while Ethereum grabbed more than 30% in four days of trading.
Both of the crypto leaders have been gaining in recent weeks, bitcoin benefiting from the successful bitcoin blockchain split.
Investors are moving to cryptocurrencies despite the fact bitcoin’s volatility is around 10 times greater than gold’s. Cryptocurrency proponents view their independence from a central authority as protection from meddling from central banks or governments. It also protects savings in countries with high inflation and weak capital controls.
Since mid-2016, investors and traders in the largest bitcoin exchange markets including the U.S., China and Japan began to perceive bitcoin as a safe haven asset. Since then, bitcoin has been the go-to asset for avoiding economic uncertainty and financial instability.
Some financial observers believe fiat money is approaching its decline and the emergence of a decentralized and market-based currency such as bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies that hold the philosophy of bitcoin could threaten the global financial system.
Bitcoin is seen as a practical and viable hedge against debt-based economies because its value solely depends on its market. Since bitcoin is decentralized by nature and has a fixed monetary supply, the value of bitcoin is decided by supply and demand. As long the demand for bitcoin continues to increase, the value of bitcoin will proportionally surge, given that its supply is fixed.
Whether or not investors will at some point find themselves in need of a refuge from cryptocurrencies is still to be determined.
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