PARIS: Bitcoin briefly rose above $60,000 for the first time on Saturday, as increasing backing from corporate heavyweights helps the world’s most popular virtual currency continue its record-breaking run.
The cryptocurrency hit an all-time high of $60,012 at 1149 GMT, according to the website CoinMarketCap.
Bitcoin has been on a meteoric rise since March last year, when it stood at $5,000, spurred by online payments giant PayPal saying it would allow account holders to use cryptocurrency.
Advocates champion the cryptocurrency as a store of value akin to gold that can act as a hedge against inflation and a weaker dollar. Others argue that the rally is a giant stimulus-fueled bubble on track to burst.
Industry participants and some strategists point to wider take up as one reason why the current bull run is different.
Last month Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla invested $1.5 billion in the virtual unit, while Twitter chief Jack Dorsey and rap mogul Jay-Z said they are creating a fund aimed at making Bitcoin “the internet’s currency.”
Others jumping on the bandwagon include Wall Street player BNY Mellon, investment fund giant BlackRock and credit card titan Mastercard.
“Bitcoin’s resilience is proving to be the stuff of legend,” Antoni Trenchev, managing partner and co-founder of Nexo in London, a crypto lender, was quoted as saying in Bangkok Post.
“Every correction is an opportunity to reset and restart the move upward.”
Bitcoin, which was launched back in 2009, hit the headlines in 2017 after soaring from less than $1,000 in January to almost $20,000 in December of the same year.
The virtual bubble then burst in subsequent days, with bitcoin’s value then fluctuating wildly before sinking below $5,000 by October 2018.
However the last year’s rise has been more steady, with investors and Wall Street finance giants wooed by dizzying growth, the opportunity for profit and asset diversification, and a safe store of value to guard against inflation.
Despite the mainstream interest, cryptocurrencies remain subject to patchy oversight globally, with the lack of regulatory clarity and associations with crime keeping many larger investors leery of exposure.
Bitcoins are traded via a decentralized registry system known as a blockchain.
The system requires massive computer processing power in order to manage and implement transactions.
That power is provided by “miners,” who do so in the hope they will receive new bitcoins for validating transaction data.
China accounts for about 65 percent of global Bitcoin mining computing power, according to the Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index compiled by Cambridge University. Malaysia is fifth-highest on the list with 4.3 percent.