It's been a strong few days in the cryptocurrency markets, with most major cryptocurrencies posting big gains. In fact, with a one-week rise of 11.3%, bitcoin (BTC-USD) is the worst performer of the 10 largest cryptocurrencies.

Others have risen by much more, with Ethereum (ETH-USD), Ripple (XRP-USD), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH-USD) all up dramatically. Here's a look at the latest cryptocurrency prices, and two big news items fueling this rally.

Design of hexagons connected by dotted lines, with blockchain written in the middle.

Image source: Getty Images.

Today's cryptocurrency prices

Here's a look at the 10 largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, and how much each has changed over the past 24 hours.

Cryptocurrency Name (Code)

Price in U.S. Dollars

Day's Change

7-Day Change

Bitcoin (BTC)




Ethereum (ETH)




Ripple (XRP)




Bitcoin Cash (BCH)








Litecoin (LTC)




Cardano (ADA)




Stellar (XLM)












Data source: Prices and daily changes as of April 23, 2018, as of 10 a.m. EDT. Prices are rounded to the nearest cent, where appropriate.

The Amazon effect

To be clear, there isn't just one factor that produced the rise of all of these cryptocurrencies. However, a big contributor appears to be recent news out of Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud-computing portion of Amazon.

On Friday, AWS announced its newly available "blockchain templates." Without getting too technical, the AWS blockchain templates make it easier and faster to launch blockchain networks on the Ethereum (ETH-USD) and Hyperledger Fabric protocols.

While most cryptocurrencies spiked shortly after the announcement, it certainly makes sense that Ethereum (ETH-USD) and other cryptocurrencies that are primarily designed for institutional applications were among the biggest winners, as you can see in the chart. On the other hand, the cryptocurrencies that are primarily designed as payment mechanisms, such as bitcoin and Litecoin, didn't spike by quite as much.

Bitcoin Cash is the big winner -- why?

You'll also notice from the chart that the biggest winner, both today and over the past week, has been Bitcoin Cash (BCH-USD).

If you aren't familiar, Bitcoin Cash is a payment-oriented cryptocurrency that was spun off from bitcoin last year, with the intention of making transactions faster and cheaper.

The reason for the excellent performance is that Bitcoin Cash is set to undergo another "hard fork" on May 15. Instead of creating a new coin -- like Bitcoin Cash itself was created in a bitcoin hard fork -- this Bitcoin Cash fork isn't designed to create yet another cryptocurrency.

Instead, the intention is to improve even further on Bitcoin Cash's main strength: its ability to handle larger transaction volumes than original bitcoin can. Specifically, the original bitcoin network has a maximum block size of 1 megabyte. Bitcoin Cash (BCH-USD) has a maximum of 8 MB, meaning that it can process eight times the information. The new fork increases this capacity further to 32 MB.

Why do investors care? This change could further improve transaction times and make Bitcoin Cash even more cost-effective to use than it already is, thereby increasing its viability as a currency.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.