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Ripple's rise is poised to rain on Ether's 'flippening' parade

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Bitcoin alternatives are closing the gap with the market leader after names like stellar and cardano became red hot as 2017 was closing.

[NEW YORK] The race to catch bitcoin is heating up, and a new contender is quickly rising in the ranks.

Ripple, a cryptocurrency that first surfaced in 2013, is closing in on ether, the world's second-most valuable digital coin by market cap. Ripple's market value has rocketed past US$71 billion after gaining almost 33 per cent since Thursday, now sitting just shy of Ethereum's US$73 billion value. Bitcoin's market cap is near US$250 billion.

It's the latest twist in the crypto saga known as the "flippening". That's what ether enthusiasts call the coin's anticipated rise to the most valuable by market cap. Rather than catching up to bitcoin, though, ether's in danger of falling behind other upstarts. Just last week, it looked like bitcoin cash, which first debuted in August, would spoil ether's pursuit. That threat faded as the bitcoin-spinoff tumbled, but now ripple's 20,000 per cent surge this year has it on the cusp of second place.

"There's no doubt 2017 has been, among other things, the year of crypto," Ripple chief executive officer Brad Garlinghouse said on Bloomberg Television earlier this week. "And within the year of crypto, XRP (ripple) has outperformed every other digital asset out there."

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Ripple's rally has far outpaced the gains of both ether and bitcoin, which have gained roughly 9,000 and 1,400 per cent year-to-date, respectively.

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