Bitcoin surge continues as $6,100 mark left behind for new record
The US dollar value of bitcoin flew past $6,100 (£4,600) today to hit a new record high as the astonishing acceleration of the cryptocurrency continued.
Bitcoin only broke through the $6,000 mark for the first time on Friday afternoon, but a surge of buying quickly pushed its value almost as high as $6,200. One bitcoin fetched as much as $6,183.98 on Saturday, according to the Coindesk index.
The cryptocurrency has risen by around 600 per cent during the year to date, with a rapid – if volatile – acceleration since the end of March. The speed of the increase in value of digital currency in dollar terms has led many analysts to conclude the price movements share the characteristics of a bubble.
However, those warning have failed to halt the ascent of the currency, despite two hefty sell-offs in early July and early September. Since hitting its last trough in mid-September the price of bitcoin has near doubled.
The jump in prices has been partially driven by the so-called hard fork in bitcoin set for Wednesday 25 October, when all owners of bitcoin will be given bitcoin gold, a separate cryptocurrency.
The recent rise in bitcoin has divided the investor community, with criticism from high-profile figures from the upper echelons of traditional finance. JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon last month described the cryptocurrency as a "fraud", saying trading in it was "stupid".
Digital currencies have also attracted the attention of regulators, with Chinese authorities in particular having an effect on prices. China's government is reportedly concerned the cryptocurrency, which is very difficult to track, may be used in capital flight for investors to take money out of the country.
However, across the East China Sea Japan has taken early steps in moving bitcoin exchanges under its regulatory umbrella, potentially paving the way for more mainstream adoption as a currency and enabling better protection against fraud in an industry which is still heavily associated with illegal transactions.
The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission has already ruled that bitcoin is a commodity and is therefore subject to the same regulation as other commodities when used in a derivatives contract.