- Cardano's ada cryptocurrency soared on Thursday to top $3 for the first time.
- Excitement has built around a major upgrade that will let smart contracts be built on the network.
- Ada is now the third-biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, behind bitcoin and ether.
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Cardano's ada cryptocurrency soared on Thursday to rise above $3 for the first time, after developers kicked off upgrades that will allow "smart contracts" to be built on the network.
Ada was up 9.1% at 4.25 a.m. ET, according to Coingecko, to stand at $3.04. It earlier touched an all-time high of $3.09.
The digital token has had a stellar run in recent weeks as investors have become excited about the major network upgrades, codenamed Alonzo.
Ada's jump on Wednesday night and Thursday morning coincided with cardano developer IOHK saying that the Alonzo upgrades had been launched on a test network. The full launch is expected later in September.
Read more: A top market technician who got bullish on Cardano before it surged 92% explains how it could 'double or triple' from current levels - and reveals why Solana might have the most bullish crypto chart of all
The Alonzo upgrades will allow smart contracts to be built on the network, potentially making the cardano blockchain more attractive to a wider array of users. A smart contract is a piece of code that allows people to enter financial agreements without the need for a centralized party. The move could make cardano more of a rival to ethereum, which already offers smart contracts and has drawn increasing institutional investor interest for its range of potential uses in financial services.
Cardano developer IOHK said on Twitter: "The Cardano Testnet now officially supports Plutus smart contracts. Final testing & integrations ahead. SPOs will now upgrade their mainnet nodes. Then next stop… mainnet upgrade. Still on track for 12 September. Onward!"
Ada is now the third-biggest cryptocurrency, behind bitcoin and ether, in terms of market capitalization. It is up more than 130% over the last 30 days and is more than 2,300% higher over the last year.
So-called altcoins have risen sharply in recent weeks, during a broader rebound in the crypto market that has also seen bitcoin climb. Ether has risen more than 42% in the last 30 days, according to Coingecko, while XRP has climbed more than 68%.
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