Bitstamp, a EU-licensed digital currency exchange, is expanding its offering with the addition of Litecoin and Ethereum trading.
LTC/BTC, LTC/EUR and LTC/USD trading pairs will be launched in early June with Ethereum following shorter after. Litecoin successfully activating Segregated Witness (SegWit) was “one of the key factors in our decision,” Bitstamp said. The company added that it “will continue to consider other digital currencies for inclusion on an ongoing basis.”
Commenting on the announcement, Bitstamp’s CEO Nejc Kodrič, said:
“Things are changing rapidly and we now have the fundamentals in place to give our traders all the services they’re used to, but in a safe and secure environment. Now is the right time to expand and continue giving our customers what they want.”
Bitstamp is also testing a margin trading service, currently in closed beta, which it plans to gradually open up access in the months ahead. A new trading interface is expected to be introduced soon as well. The platform launched XRP trading in January.
With digital currencies continuing to gain in popularity, Bitstamp has experienced rapid growth and a surge in signups.
Bitcoin crossed the US$2,600 mark on Thursday on Bitstamp, up 38% this week. So far this year, the price of bitcoin has more than doubled, starting 2017 at 1,000 USD/BTC. With a market capitalization of over US$41 billion, bitcoin is the world’s largest cryptocurrency.
Technologist and experts are attributing bitcoin’s recent surge to the increase in demand for other digital currencies sold in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), a fundraising method used by blockchain startups that is growing in popularity.
Others cited increased economic instability in places like Russia, Nigeria, Venezuela and even South Korea where people are encouraged to turn to bitcoin because it can be a more stable way to conduct financial transactions. They expect that prices for bitcoin and other digital currencies will continue rising.
“What we’re seeing is mainstream adoption … and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin becoming an accepted commodity for investment,” Sheffield Clark, co-founder and CEO of Coinsource, told CBS News.
“I also expect many countries to follow Japan’s footsteps and recognize bitcoin as a legal payment method. As the investor base broadens, there inevitably will be a bandwagon effect that will take hold.”
The price of ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network, hit an all-time high of 210 USD/ETH on Thursday, up 144% this week, and 2,525% since the beginning of the year.
Ethereum’s surge in popularity is coming from the corporate world where an increasing number of firms from varied sectors are looking to use the technology for smart contract applications.
A group called the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) was launched earlier this year to advance Ethereum into an enterprise-grade technology and connect large firms to technology vendors. Companies involved include JPMorgan, Microsoft and Intel.
EEA’s research and development focuses on privacy, confidentiality, scalability, and security. The organization is also investigating hybrid architectures that span both permissioned and public Ethereum networks as well as industry specific application layer working groups.
On Tuesday, at the Consensus 2017 blockchain event, EEA announced the addition of 86 firms to its membership. These include Deloitte, the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Infosys, ING, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Samsung SDS.