Amidst an ongoing crypto surge, Ether soared to new market heights Monday, becoming one of the priciest cryptocurrencies in circulation. The Ethereum blockchain-based token is now worth around $3,200, making its total market capitalization higher than Bank of America, Paypal, and Nestle.
The new valuation has also made Ether’s creator, the 27-year-old Russian-Canadian computer programmer Vitalik Buterin, the world’s youngest crypto billionaire. At the age of 19, Buterin helped create the Ethereum blockchain and has served as a manager of the blockchain since 2013.
Ether, which is the second-largest cryptocurrency next to Bitcoin, has seen a meteoric rise in value over the past year. Some twelve months ago, the coin was trading at $210. As of last week, it sat at $2,500. As of today, it has quadrupled in value for the year so far and at least one analyst is now suggesting the coin could go as high as $5,000 by the end of the week.
The coin’s run is due in part to Ethereum’s role in launching the NFT craze currently sweeping the Internet. Investors, some skilled but many unskilled, have flocked to the Ethereum platform over the last several months to take part in the buying and selling of digital art tokens, the likes of which have generated billions of dollars.
At the same time, the U.S. is also currently undergoing a surge in crypto investment, even as authorities worldwide attempt to crack down on its proliferation. The combined value of the crypto industry now ranks at $2.3 trillion, more than “$100 billion more than the market cap of Apple,” the Independent reports. Bitcoin still represents the largest share of the market by a significant margin, though some financial analysts interpret Ether’s recent gains as an example of how decentralized finance may become more ubiquitous in the near future.