Digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum returned a staggering 445% this year.

By Robert Hackett
September 6, 2017
September 06, 2017

2017 is the year of crypto.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and blockchain-based cryptocurrencies produced a staggering 445% in total returns through the first half of the year, vastly outperforming traditional assets. Gains in real estate, gold, and equities paled in comparison.

The digital currency economy’s rise was buoyed by a craze for initial coin offerings or ICOs, where hundreds of blockchain-based projects minted their own digital tokens for fundraising sales. Financial regulators have been clamping down on the crowdfunding trend in recent weeks, warning entrepreneurs that their digital currencies may be regulated as securities or, in China’s case, by banning them outright.

Coindesk, a digital currency trade publication, compiled the financial data as part of its latest quarterly “State of the Blockchain” report. The chart below shows returns for digital assets versus other types.

Bitcoin alone blew more conventional asset types out of the water with 150.6% returns. The growth in established assets like real estate (3.2%), gold (7.7%), U.S. equities (9.2%), and global equities (14.7%) didn’t hold a candle to their crypto cousins.

It’s a bull’s world. The total market value for cryptocurrencies exploded this year, quadrupling past the $100 billion mark from around $20 billion at the beginning of the year. (You can read more about the mania in this recent Fortune cover story.)

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Bitcoin, once dominant, representing roughly 90% of the market value for cryptocurrencies, fell in May from its majority position to less than 50% of the total market value as Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash and other cryptocurrencies soared.

Industry watchers caution that cryptocurrencies remain a risky, speculative investment, prone to wild fluctuations in price. Bears warn that the market exhibits all the hallmarks of a bubble.

This is part of Fortune’s new initiative, The Ledger, a trusted news source at the intersection of tech and finance. For more on The Ledger, click here.

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