CryptoWatch: The most explosive cryptocurrency these days is not bitcoin

Bitcoin BTCUSD, +12.22% has, for good reason, dominated the financial headlines lately, but its sizzling performance over the past month pales compared with what’s happening in another corner of the crypto market.

IOTA, which bills itself as the “backbone” of the internet-of-things economy, has seen a surge of almost 800% since early November, with most of the gains logged in the past few days. This chart puts the move into perspective:

The fierce rally has its total market cap approaching $12 billion — enough to vault IOTA into the top five of all cryptocurrencies, ahead of Ripple and almost halfway to bitcoin cash. Still a long, long way to go to catch bitcoin, of course:

The spike in interest follows reports that several high-profile technology companies, including Microsoft MSFT, +1.47% are teaming up with the German nonprofit overseeing IOTA on a marketplace for selling data that would otherwise go to waste.

“At present, up to 99% of this precious data gathered is lost to the void,” IOTA co-founder and CEO David Sonstebo told CNBC about this “sleeping giant” earlier this week. “IOTA incentivizes sharing of data through its zero-fee transactions and by ensuring data integrity for free on the decentralized distributed ledger.”

IOTA topped out at $5.55 amid some serious volatility Wednesday, with its price since dropping toward the $4 mark.

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