In brief

  • Bitcoin's market cap has broken the elusive $300 billion mark.
  • It's the first time that Bitcoin's market cap has topped $300 billion since December 2017.
  • Bitcoin is now 90% of the way toward matching its all-time highest market cap value.

As the price of Bitcoin pushed past the $16,000 mark over the last 24 hours, Bitcoin's market cap broke the elusive $300 billion mark—the first time it's done so since December 19, 2017, just two days after the cryptocurrency reached its infamous all-time high.

At the time, Bitcoin's price touched $20,000 and its market cap went as high as $333 billion. And now, both figures are closing in on their respective targets.

According to CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin's market cap is now just over $302 billion. That means it is 90% of the way toward matching its all-time highest market cap value. In contrast, Bitcoin's price is currently $16,290, so just 81% of the way to its all-time high.

Bitcoin's market cap grows
Bitcoin's market cap is nearing its all-time high. Image: CoinMarketCap.

It makes sense that the market cap is a closer figure—and will break its milestone before Bitcoin's price does. This is because a coin's market cap is calculated by multiplying the number of coins and its price. Since Bitcoin's inflation rate produces around 657,000 Bitcoin per year (half that since the halving), its market cap will continue to rise even if the price is steady.

Bitcoin's share of the cryptocurrency market had been declining in recent months. While Bitcoin's market dominance has been as low as 33% in the past, it typically hovered around the 65% mark between late 2019 and early 2020. On September 14, however, it fell to a recent low of 57%.

But Bitcoin's growing market cap has helped to revive its share of the market. Since then, it has risen back up to 64%, comfortably claiming two-thirds of the entire crypto market.

Bitcoin vs altcoin market caps

Looking at the other coins in the top 10, they are split between those who hit big in 2017 and are struggling to return to former highs and those who have broken new ground in 2020 and have been seeing new all-time highs.

Both Ethereum and XRP are still a long way off from their market cap all-time highs. Ethereum's market cap has shrunk from $100 billion to $52 billion, a drop of 48%. XRP's market cap has sunk from $140 billion to just $11 billion today—down 92%.

XRP coin on black background
XRP is the third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. Image: Shutterstock

In contrast, Chainlink and Binance Coin both hit recent all-time highs and have not fallen that far since. Chainlink's market cap hit $6.7 billion in August and it has reduced to $5 billion today, only down 25%. Binance Coin reached a market cap of $5.5 billion in June and it has only declined to $4 billion—down 27%.

Chainlink boosts its market cap
Chainlink's market cap grew significantly in 2020. Image: CoinMarketCap.

So while some coins have seen their size diminish since 2017, and others have come from nowhere to break new highs, Bitcoin is one of the few to have fallen from a high peak—and gone on to regain most of its size. It may not be a consistent store of value, but it's certainly resilient.

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