Bitcoin's market share has fallen below 35% after treading above 55% for most of 2017, and the total market cap of all cryptocurrencies has surged past $750b. While crypto pundits have provided a wide variety of explanations, many cite bitcoin's slow transaction speed and relatively high (mining) fees - issues that speak to persistent scalability issues for blockchain.
“The altcoins today, in large part, are not trying to be bitcoin competitors,” said Lex Sokolin, global director of fintech strategy at Autonomous Research LLP in London. “They are doing something else entirely — ethereum as a smart-contracts platform, iota as a machine-economy token, ripple for interbank payments, and so on.” How each is used “should become increasingly relevant as the novelty of crypto wears off.” Relative performance is now a multibillion-dollar question as professional investors search for ways to value digital assets that seem to defy traditional techniques, such as profit and dividend potential for equities, or industrial-demand outlooks for commodities. Correlation, for example, is one of many technical-analysis tools used across asset classes in forecasting, and altcoins historically have moved mostly in step with bitcoin.