Bitcoin (BTC-USD) and other major cryptocurrencies continue to move higher on Monday, after a strong showing in the second half of last week. Ripple (XRP-USD) in particular has done extremely well over the past week, and recently landed yet another financial institution partner.

Here's a rundown of today's cryptocurrency price action, the latest developments that could solve bitcoin's "scalability" problem, and Ripple's newest partnership.

Today's cryptocurrency prices

Here's a look at the five largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization and how much each has changed over the past 24 hours and the last week.

Cryptocurrency Name (Code)

Price in U.S. Dollars

Day's Change

1-Week Change

Bitcoin (BTC)

$8,805.70

6.2%

21.6%

Ethereum (ETH)

$871.00

4.7%

20.9%

Ripple (XRP)

$1.03

4.7%

48.7%

Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

$1,271.00

2.2%

36.1%

Cardano (ADA)

$0.36

0.9%

13.8%

Data source: www.investing.com. Prices and daily changes as of Feb. 12, 2018, at 3:00 p.m. EST, and prices are rounded to the nearest cent where appropriate.

As you can see, all of the major cryptocurrencies continue to rebound following a dismal start to the year. Interestingly, there isn't any major positive news driving prices higher, other than a few bitcoin- and ripple-specific items, which I'll discuss later. Rather, it seems that the lack of bad news (which seemed to come daily for the first month or so of 2018) has been enough to bring traders back into the cryptocurrency markets.

Coinbase is making it easier for merchants to accept bitcoin

In 2017, I wrote an article detailing some of the biggest challenges standing in the way of bitcoin (BTC-USD) becoming a mainstream currency. One of them was acceptance -- that is, few merchants accept bitcoin as a method of payment.

A gold coin embossed with the bitcoin symbol on it and a blue stock chart behind it.

Image source: Getty Images.

Major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is trying to remedy this by rolling out a commerce button designed to allow businesses to accept bitcoin (and potentially other cryptocurrency) payments on their websites. The idea is similar to existing payment buttons, such as the PayPal merchant button that redirects the customer to PayPal's website to check out. The feature has not been rolled out yet, but could certainly help integrate bitcoin acceptance on a wider scale.

Could another of bitcoin's biggest problems be solved soon?

Another major obstacle bitcoin (BTC-USD) faces is scalability. The bitcoin network simply wasn't designed to handle large volumes of transactions, and the recent surge in popularity has resulted in long transaction times and high transaction fees.

There are a few initiatives that could help solve this problem. The first is known as the Lightning Network, which essentially reduces the amount of data that the bitcoin network needs to process. A simplified explanation is that the Lightning Network keeps records of transactions and only transmits the final balances on the bitcoin network, instead of submitting details of each small transaction individually.

Another potential speed boost could occur when Coinbase integrates a technology called Segregated Witness, or SegWit, into its transactions, which it plans to do by the end of February. The idea behind SegWit is similar to that of the Lightning Network -- to reduce the amount of data being transmitted per transaction through the bitcoin network in order to increase capacity. SegWit accomplishes this in a different way, by removing certain parts of transactions in order to save space.

Ripple partners with yet another financial institution

Finally, you'll notice in the price chart that Ripple (XRP-USD) has been the big winner over the past week, up by nearly 50%.

Ripple (XRP-USD) has been the subject of investor interest lately for its real-world partnerships with financial institutions. American Express, Santander, and MoneyGram International have all partnered with Ripple to reduce the cost of international transactions.

Abu Dhabi-based remittance company UAE Exchange is the latest Ripple partner. The company, which operates almost 800 branches in 31 countries, plans to use Ripple's technology for international transactions to reduce costs and increase speed, just like Ripple's other partners.

Matthew Frankel owns shares of American Express and PayPal Holdings, as well as Ethereum tokens. The Motley Fool recommends American Express. It recommends and owns shares of PayPal Holdings, but has no position in any cryptocurrencies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.