Bitcoin traded sharply higher Friday, while rival cryptocurrency Ethereum pegged a new high and Ripple retreated from Thursday's record levels. Meanwhile multiple cryptocurrency debit card providers suspended service under orders from Visa ( V ) Europe.
[ibd-display-video id=3017249 width=50 float=left autostart=true] Companies including Bitwala, Cryptopay, Wirex and TenX reportedly told customers that their prepaid cards would no longer function, though funds stored on cards are safe while they seek to resolve the issue with card issuer WaveCrest. The cards allow users to spend cryptocurrencies, mainly Bitcoin, at traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.
In a statement to The Next Web , Visa is said to have clarified that its move was not a crackdown on cryptocurrencies, but action against one company that broke its rules.
Meanwhile, amid a state crackdown in China , Bitcoin miners are setting up shop outside the country.
Bitmain, an operator of two of China's largest Bitcoin-mining collectives, will establish regional headquarters in Singapore and now has mining operations in the U.S. and Canada, the company told Bloomberg .
On the spot market, the price of Bitcoin was up 10% at $16,731.48, according to CoinDesk . Bitcoin was at $17,041.10, up 11% vs. the prior day, on CoinMarketCap . Bitcoin futures from CME Group ( CME ) rose 12% to $16,690, and Cboe Global Markets ( CBOE ) future climbed 12% to $16,720.
While Bitcoin remains well off its record highs, rival Ethereum pegged a new high Friday of $1,075.39 and was up 0.7% to $988.54 on CoinDesk. Ripple traded at $3.07, down 8% vs. 24 hours earlier on CoinMarketCap.
Bitcoin rival Ripple has seen its value soar stratospherically in the past month and year. At one point Thursday, a Ripple co-founder was worth more than $59 billion, briefly vaulting ahead of Facebook ( FB ) chief Mark Zuckerberg as one of the world's richest people, The New York Times reported. Ripple is the now the second largest cryptocurrency by market value, and Ethereum is third.
Nearly 40 virtual currencies are worth more than $1 billion each, the Times added, although many have not been used for any transaction other than speculative trading.
IBD'S TAKE : Are Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital currencies real investments or a speculator's game? Individual investors should be extremely cautious about diving into this new area. Read this feature about Bitcoin risks and possible gains first.
Among blockchain and cryptocurrency stocks, Riot Blockchain ( RIOT ) closed up 0.7% on the stock market today but posted a 14% weekly loss. Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) advanced 6% as it booked a 16% weekly gain. Overstock (OSTK) rallied 8% Friday to a record high and surged 31.5% on the week. Square (SQ) popped 8% and snapped a string of five weekly losses with a 19% gain for the week.
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