Digital currency ripple soars nearly 56% and becomes second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap

Ripple's XRP just soared more than 30% Ripple's XRP just soared more than 30%
Ripple surged nearly 56 percent to an all-time high, surpassing ethereum as the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.

Officially called XRP, ripple climbed 55.9 percent to a record high of $2.23 Friday afternoon, according to CoinMarketCap. The digital currency had a market cap of $86.3 billion, surpassing ethereum's $73 billion, according to the website. Earlier, the two cryptocurrencies vied for the second-place spot as prices fluctuated in morning trading.

Bitcoin remains the largest digital currency by far. It has a market capitalization of roughly $247 billion, accounting for about 41 percent of the total cryptocurrency market cap tracked by CoinMarketCap. Ripple accounted for about 12.5 percent, while ethereum was around 12.1 percent, the website showed.

CoinMarketCap charts show ripple had climbed above ethereum into the second-place spot in May. But back then ripple was only worth about 36 cents.

The digital currency ended 2016 at less than 1 cent and topped $1 only last week, before leaping above $2 Friday afternoon. Ripple is up more than 34,700 percent this year.

Ethereum rose about 2 percent to $753.57 Friday afternoon, with a market cap of about $72.8 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. Bitcoin traded slightly higher, near $14,475, according to Coinbase.

Ripple is officially the name of a San Francisco-based start-up using blockchain technology to develop a payments network for banks, digital asset exchanges and other financial institutions. Network participants use a digital coin called XRP for transactions. The cryptocurrency has a four-second settlement time, versus more than two minutes for ethereum and over an hour for bitcoin, according to Ripple's website.

The company said more than 100 financial institutions use its network. In the last few weeks, some South Korean and Japanese banks have been testing Ripple's systems for cross-border payments, according to the company.

The start-up owns 61 percent of the 100 billion XRP in existence. At Friday's record high prices, that gives Ripple about $136 billion worth of the digital currency.

Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker from CNBC

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