Bitcoin is rebounding Tuesday after starting the new year with a loss, buoyed in part on a report that a Peter Thiel venture capital fund has a big Bitcoin holding. Meanwhil Ripple and Ethereum jumped as Russia is reportedly looking creating its own “cryptoruble.”
Founders Fund, co-founded by Thiel has Bitcoin worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources. Founders Fund bought some $15 million to $20 million worth of Bitcoin that is now worth a lot more, the WSJ said.
Not many institutional investors and Wall Street firms have made big bets on Bitcoin, so Thiel’s reported investments would signal a growing acceptance of the digital currency.
Bitcoin rallied 11% to $14,896.75, according to Coindesk, after starting 2018 with modest losses, the first time it has fallen on a new year’s first day since 2015. CME and Cboe Bitcoin futures erased modest losses to turn 3% higher vs. Friday’s closing levels.
Ethereum hit a record-high of $914.83 earlier Tuesday, according to Coinmarketcap.com and is up 13% in the last 24 hours. But Ethereum is the third largest cryptocurrency, giving up its No. 2 spot after Ripple surged more than 20,000% last year.
Ripple was up 8.4% to $2.41 Tuesday. The cryptocurrency gained popularity as it marketed itself as safer than other products thanks to its ties to financial institutions like Bank of America and UBS.
Among blockchain and cryptocurrency plays, Riot Blockchain closed down 1.8% on the stock market today. Long Blockchain (LTEA), which changed its name from Long Island Iced Tea in late December, vaulted 21%. Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) jumped 12%. Overstock (OSTK) gained 1.2%.
Meanwhile, Russia is looking at creating its own cryptocurrency after President Vladimir Putin meet with Vitalik Buterin, the Russia-born founder of Ethereum, over the summer to figure out how to regulate them.
“This instrument suits us very well for sensitive activity on behalf of the state. We can settle accounts with our counterparties all over the world with no regard for sanctions,” Sergei Glazev, an economic advisor to Putin, said at recent government meeting, according to the Financial Times.
The government’s cryptocurrency would also enable Moscow to track its movements.
Venezuela is also looking at making it’s own oil-backed cryptocurrency to fight hyperinflation, and North Korea has been stockpiling cryptocurrencies.
But many central banks, including South Korea’s, Denmark’s and Singapore’s, have issued warnings about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies over extreme volatility.
And as Bitcoin becomes more mainstream, with futures contracts on the CME Group (CME) and Cboe Global Markets (CBOE) exchanges, online criminals are turning to privacy coins such as monero, Bloomberg reported.