Digital currencies show potential to be new asset class as demand for Bitcoin rival Ethereum rises

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For the past year or so, “blockchain, not Bitcoin” has been a common refrain among the financial services set — meant to imply both that the technology behind Bitcoin is what’s truly revolutionary, not the currency itself, and that private blockchains (akin to Intranets) can be just as transformative as public ones like the Bitcoin blockchain (more similar to the Internet).
But even as 2016 has shaped up to be the year financial incumbents race to create their own private blockchains, grassroots excitement over another public digital currency network, Ethereum, has shown that the battle between blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies — if such a competition truly exists — is far from over.
With Bitcoin and Ether (Ethereum’s currency) at $7 billion and $1 billion market capitalizations, respectively, and trading infrastructure building up around them, digital currencies look to be growing into a viable asset class while private blockchains have yet to take off.
Yesterday, virtual currency…

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