Japanese groups agree to use it

Cryptocurrency Ripple is up a whopping 46% today and has soared since the middle of this month.

Today's catalyst is an announcement that three of Japan's big credit card companies have agreed to use its technology.

It's market cap is now $70 billion, just shy of Ethereum.

Ripple is a privately-created cryptocurrency that aims to use blockchain technology to make cross-border payments more quickly, taking on the Swift system.

"2017 has been the year of the digital asset, and XRP has clearly outperformed every other digital asset," Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple's chief executive, told the Financial Times. "The reason for that is that the market has realised that XRP is a highly efficient payments mechanism that is solving real world problems for real world customers with real money."

He said that "people are increasingly realising that bitcoin is not going to be a panacea for all these payments problems that people imagined it would solve". He added: "Payments with XRP settle in a few seconds, but if you buy a cup of coffee with bitcoin it will be cold by the time the payment has been settled."

The bolded will be the key for all cryptocurrencies in 2018.