What happened

Bitcoin (BTC 1.44%) is back (baby). After months languishing in a $30,000 to $40,000 price channel, the granddaddy of cryptocurrencies surged past $50,000 per coin on Monday. What may surprise you, though, is that other cryptocurrencies are doing even better.

Here's how prices have changed over the past 24 hours (as of 10 a.m. EDT) for several of the biggest names in cryptocurrency, according to the price trackers at Coindesk:  

  • Bitcoin (BTC 1.44%) is up a solid 2.6%.
  • Ethereum's (ETH 1.08%) doing even better -- up 3.6%.
  • XRP (XRP 2.16%), the token closely associated with Ripple, is notching a 4.2% gain.
  • And Dogecoin (DOGE 1.60%) is bringing up the rear with a 1.5% gain.
Gold Bitcoin symbol on a stock chart

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Today is the first day in three months that Bitcoin has broken the $50,000 barrier. But while Bitcoin's surge is probably at least part of the reason other cryptocurrencies are following along, this is still more a description than an explanation of what's happening today.  

So what else is going on in the cryptocurrency world today?

Well, as CNBC reports, PayPal Holdings (PYPL 0.47%) just launched its cryptocurrency service in the United Kingdom, permitting users to buy, sell, and keep crypto in their PayPal accounts. CNBC notes that this is PayPal's first major expansion of its cryptocurrency services outside the U.S -- but probably won't be its last. As the market for Bitcoin grows, it makes sense that the demand for and price of Bitcoin would grow with it.  

Now what

Now, at the same time, The Wall Street Journal points out that "cryptocurrency's surge" around the globe is starting to catch the attention of regulators. However, the Journal also notes that "coordinated crypto oversight seems limited in the U.S., Europe and Asia" so far. While regulators are "scrambling to catch up ... it won't be easy ... to rein in a rebellious industry that has adopted the tech world's blueprint for aggressively deploying new products to quickly amass users," the Journal says.  

In the U.S., new SEC chairman Gary Gensler (and others) have called for heightened regulation of the cryptocurrency market, calling it "the Wild West" and urging it be reined in. In Europe, regulators seem most concerned about "policing fraud" and "ensuring transparency," observes the Journal -- but also "protecting the sovereignty" of nation states and the currencies they favor. Meanwhile in Asia, China is taking a sort of schizophrenic approach to regulation, on the one hand "rooting out cryptocurrency-related activities" initiated by others -- but on the other hand trying to create its own digital currency controlled by the state.

So is this good news or bad news? As I've argued previously, although cryptocurrency fans might on first reaction be inclined to cheer the lack of "coordinated crypto oversight," more coordinated regulation might actually be a good thing for the crypto market, moderating panic-inducing price swings, and bringing a bit of predictability and -- dare we say it? -- safety to investing in cryptocurrency.

As big players like PayPal enter this market, don't be too surprised if you see them start lobbying for regulation themselves.