Crypto Currency Litecoin Explodes To All-Time Record Price Of $230

Monday was another excellent day for all investors in crypto currencies as prices continued rising exponentially to unheard of highs. A particularly fast mover was Litecoin which saw its price explode to a high of around $230 - a jump of well over 30%. Ethereum also finally bit the bullet and roared ahead reaching an all-time high of $530 before settling slightly. Dash and Ripple were also up, the former by around 10% and the latter by around 15%. The major crypto currency Bitcoin was considerably up on Monday reaching a high of well over $17,000 but then settled at the $16,500 mark earlier this morning, although there are signs that it could easily breach $17,000 very soon.

For most of December, the litecoin price had traded between $90 and $100, but on Friday it exploded to $130 and continued to rise heading into the weekend. On Saturday, litecoin topped $160 for the first time, but Sunday brought a minor halt to the rally, and the litecoin price slid below $125. However, bolstered by bullish sentiment among Futures traders, the cryptocurrency markets posted a comprehensive advance on Monday, and litecoin has been among the day's top performers. On Bitfinex, the litecoin price touched $185 for the first time, representing a single-day rally of more than 30 percent.

Factors Behind the Rally

Although litecoin has been trending up for some time now, several distinct factors have contributed to its present rally. First, litecoin has benefited disproportionately from Coinbase's rapidly-swelling userbase. Unlike bitcoin and ethereum - the other two cryptocurrencies that Coinbase currently supports - litecoin has little name recognition outside of the industry. Anecdotally, it appears that many new Coinbase users are purchasing a small amount of litecoin since it is available on the brokerage platform - and so much cheaper than bitcoin and ethereum. Second, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee has been invited on several prominent new programs to discuss bitcoin futures and other developments within the cryptocurrency industry, and he has used these opportunities to pitch litecoin as a solution for everyday payments that complements bitcoin's utility as a store of value.

Finally, investors believe that two recent announcements serve as confirmation of Lee's thesis. First, gaming giant Steam stated that it will no longer accept bitcoin payments, citing rising transaction fees that currently make bitcoin impractical to use for small purchases. Conversely, Bitrefill - a top-up service for prepaid mobile phones - announced that it will accept litecoin, and LTC advocates believe that many other companies will follow suit in the near future.

However, in a tweet, Lee has also warned investors that the price of Litecoin could go down to as little as $20 in the not too distant future and advised those who were not ready for such negative swings not to invest. It seems quite a strange ploy when considering everything although it could also be a tactic to get investors to pitch in.

A Hong Kong trader who successfully forecast the bitcoin price's dramatic year-end ascent believes that the flagship cryptocurrency's rally is far from over.

Dave Chapman, managing director of cryptocurrency trading firm Octagon Strategy, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that many analysts scoffed at him when he predicted the bitcoin price would more than double in the fourth quarter and reach $10,000 before the end of the year. "I was quoted back in August when bitcoin was trading at around $4,000 that we would have a five figure headline by the end of this year," he said. "I think a lot of people thought I was crazy, a lot of people scoffed at me, but that's OK."

However, despite condescending looks from bitcoin bears, the bitcoin price has met - and exceeded - Chapman's prediction. At the time of writing, bitcoin was trading at $16,615, fresh off a 20 percent rally fueled by the launch of CBOE's regulated bitcoin futures contracts. The bears chalk this movement up to a speculative frenzy, and Chapman concedes that he is a bit concerned about the market's current "heat". However, he denies that bitcoin's value is derived purely from speculation.

"Bitcoin allows the immediate transfer of value from one individual in the world to any other individual in the world, and it does that without a middle man. That's its value," he said. "If you look at bitcoin and its impact on finance, it's really not that crazy to think that bitcoin could be an extremely huge disruptor to finance as we know it today."

Chapman said that the launch of bitcoin derivatives is a sign that cryptocurrency is "growing up," and he added that he would not be surprised if the bitcoin price reaches $100,000 before the end of 2018. Nevertheless, he cautioned that becoming too fixated on cryptocurrency prices will cause people to lose sight of the truly revolutionary aspects of the technology.

"The price to me is probably the most uninteresting component about bitcoin. I'm more excited in the applications and more excited about what this means for people who don't have access to financial inclusion," Chapman concluded. "If we focus on the price, we're losing track of the big picture." As CCN reported, CBOE launched its hotly-anticipated bitcoin futures contracts on Sunday, becoming the first regulated U.S. exchange to provide traders and investors with access to this product. Though volume was much lower than activity on bitcoin exchanges - in part due to the fact that many brokers restricted client access - a CBOE executive noted that its volume was quite respectable when placed in the context of other nascent futures products.

Bitcoin Futures Trade Up Post-Launch

Although some bitcoin bears had loudly declared that the creation of futures would cause the bitcoin price to crash, the flagship cryptocurrency traded up during its first day on CBOE.

At the time of writing, GXBT - the index price for the futures contracts - was listed at $16,522, placing it $276 below its daily high. Volume had already surpassed 3,550 XBT, with most of that activity concentrated in XBT/F8, a contract with a January 17 settlement date. The January futures traded as high as $18,850 on Monday morning, but they were priced at $17,710 at the time of writing, representing approximately $1,200 worth of upside from the index's present value.

February (XBT/G8) and March (XBT/H8) futures saw considerably less volume, but each of those products traded above $19,000 before settling down to present values of about $18,000.