Bitcoin (BTC-USD) and most other cryptocurrencies are starting the week off on a positive note on Monday, thanks to a report indicating that a big institutional player could be about to jump into the cryptocurrency and blockchain markets.

In addition, several altcoins are doing even better on reports that they're being considered for inclusion on perhaps the most exclusive large cryptocurrency exchange in the world. Here's a rundown of today's cryptocurrency prices, as well as how and why these two news items are helping to drivve prices higher.

Design of several cryptocurrency symbols.

Image Source: Getty Images.

Today's cryptocurrency prices

First off, here's a look at where the leading cryptocurrencies stand. As you can see, all of the top five are up significantly today, although all of them besides bitcoin cash (BTC-USD) are lower over the past week.

Cryptocurrency Name (Code)

Price in U.S. Dollars

Day's Change

1-Week Change

Bitcoin (BTC-USD)

$6,633.80

4%

(2.5%)

Ethereum (ETH-USD)

$473.96

5.6%

(2.4%)

Ripple (XRP-USD)

$0.47

4.2%

(3%)

Bitcoin Cash (BCH-USD)

$766.98

6.1%

3.1%

EOS (EOS-USD)

$7.84

9%

(8%)

Data Source: www.investing.com. Prices and daily changes as of July 16, 2018, at approximately 10:45 a.m. EDT, and prices are rounded to the nearest cent where appropriate.

BlackRock could enter the cryptocurrency space

The main catalyst driving bitcoin (BTC-USD) and most other cryptocurrencies higher today is a report that financial giant BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) is investigating ways to get into the cryptocurrency markets.

The report indicated that the company has formed a team to investigate bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies (also known as altcoins), and to examine the blockchain technology most cryptocurrencies are based on.

Specifically, one of the sources of the report, which was published in London's Financial News newspaper, said that BlackRock's group was exploring the possibility of investing in bitcoin (BTC-USD) futures.

Institutional interest from companies like BlackRock could be essential in taking cryptocurrencies into the mainstream and could also be a major catalyst in driving prices higher, which is likely why the market is reacting in such a positive manner to the report.

Coinbase is giving a boost to five altcoins

In addition to today's price action, five altcoins have done particularly well over the weekend on reports that major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is exploring the possibility of adding them to its platform.

To be specific, the exchange said that it is looking at Cardano (ADA-USD), Stellar (XLM-USD), Zcash (ZEC-USD), 0x (ZRX-USD), and Basic Attention Token (BAT-USD).

Coinbase has historically focused on only the largest cryptocurrencies in the market. In fact, the exchange only supports four cryptocurrencies as of this writing -- bitcoin (BTC-USD), Bitcoin Cash (BCH-USD), Ethereum (ETH-USD), and Litecoin (LTC-USD). In other words, while it's not particularly difficult for a cryptocurrency to be included on some of the major exchanges, Coinbase is a very exclusive club in terms of the digital assets it allows its customers to trade. So, it's fair to say that addition to the Coinbase platform could be huge for any of these cryptocurrencies.

To be perfectly clear, there's no guarantee that any of the five will ultimately be offered on the Coinbase platform. However, you can see in this chart that these altcoins have significantly outperformed most of their larger counterparts over the past week just on the possibility that they could be.

Cryptocurrency Name (Code)

Price in U.S. Dollars

Rank (by Market Cap)

1-Week Change

Cardano (ADA-USD)

$0.15

8

5%

Stellar (XLM-USD)

$0.23

7

8.3%

Zcash (ZEC-USD)

$220.04

21

3%

0x (ZRX-USD)

$1.17

23

20.4%

Basic Attention Token (BAT-USD)

$0.32

38

24.5%

Data Source: www.investing.com. Prices and daily changes as of July 16, 2018, at approximately 10:45 a.m. EDT, and prices are rounded to the nearest cent where appropriate.

Matthew Frankel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Matthew Frankel owns Zcash tokens. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any cryptocurrencies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.