What happened

The cryptocurrency market is booming once again. Led by incredible moves in some of the largest-cap tokens, this sector has seen a surge in interest as a potential way for investors to hedge against risks to the banking system and the U.S. dollar. That's due primarily to an accelerated decline in the stock of the bank First Republic (FRCB), which is down more than 30% this morning after reporting earnings and showing more than $100 billion of deposit outflows.

As of 11:15 am ET on Wednesday, Solana (SOL 4.87%), Cardano (ADA 1.59%), and Litecoin (LTC 0.10%) are among the biggest gainers of the top 15 cryptos, surging 8.6%, 9.1%, and 3.6%, respectively, over the past 24 hours.

So what

There are many reasons investors have diversified into digital assets in recent years. Of course, the incredible upside this asset class has provided, relative to even the frothiest growth stocks in the post-pandemic era, has been a major catalyst for capital inflows into the sector.

But crypto purists (those who invested in projects like Bitcoin (BTC 4.57%) before they took off) tend to rely on other investing theses to continue to hold digital currencies. One of the key concepts many crypto investors have adopted is the idea that cryptocurrencies can provide an alternative to the banking system, which has faltered in the past.

Bitcoin was born in 2009, largely as a result of the Great Recession and the banking crisis that led to it. Litecoin, launched in 2011, was another very early option for investors and is often viewed as a smaller version of Bitcoin, due to many similarities between their networks.

However, since Bitcoin and Litecoin came on the scene more than a decade ago, other utility-generating projects have popped up, many of which provided even greater upside during the previous bull market.

Solana and Cardano are two proof-of-stake blockchain projects, each seeing impressive user growth over the years, mainly due to the adoption of smart contracts and the growth of decentralized finance (DeFi) in this time frame.

Now what

Crypto investors might notice that the moves Solana and Cardano have made over the past 24 hours have outpaced the top dogs, suggesting that interest remains high with these two top DeFi projects, relative to their proof-of-work friends. And while Litecoin has underperformed Bitcoin, it's still up more than 32% year to date, suggesting this is a token that investors can use to ride the "safety trade" higher.

The utility Solana and Cardano provide, as well as their status as top-10 crypto projects by market capitalization, could lead to capital inflows from institutional investors looking to hedge against currency and banking risk. Today, that thesis appears to be playing out, and we'll have to see if it holds water.

But for now, crypto investors have one key catalyst that's driving the boat. Accordingly, I expect to see investors look for higher-growth projects to ride this wave of momentum, at least over the near term.