Best virtual currency bitcoin briefly hit a new high on Monday, heading towards $ 20,000 per unit.
The currency broke past its previous high of $ 19,783 to hit $ 19,800, with some industry analysts predicting that it will soon cross the resistance point of $ 20,000.
Debate raged over the status of the digital asset, launched at the end of 2008, over whether it should be considered a form of money, an asset or a commodity.
It rose about 8% on Monday, taking its annual rise beyond 150%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, a far cry from the pennies it traded on in its debut that followed in the aftermath of the crash. global financial.
In March, it was only $ 5,000.
The unit, which regularly sees its value fluctuate sharply, had returned to 19,380 euros by mid-afternoon, for a day of increase of 6.5%, leaving its total market capitalization at around 360 billion dollars .
Since October, “ digital gold ” has grown by around 40%, boosted notably by online payments giant PayPal, claiming it would allow account holders to use cryptocurrency.
The California-based company also said the new service will also allow customers to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrency units and use them for payments at retailers.
After its initial tear in December 2017, bitcoin saw its market value drop by about three-quarters in the months that followed.
Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA, said on Monday that bitcoin price levels are “now entering uncharted territory” and could climb even more, with financial institutions showing ever-increasing interest in digital currencies.
A number of central banks have responded to the rise of cryptocurrencies and the decline in the global use of cash by announcing plans for bank-backed digital units that would be “ risk-free ” like banknotes. bank and coins.
Several central banks, including those of China and Sweden – but also the US Federal Reserve – are also testing digital applications in response to recent initiatives by Facebook to produce its own digital unit, Libra.
Not regulated by any central bank, bitcoin has emerged as an attractive option for investors with an appetite for the exotic – although criminals have also seen its appeal under the radar.
After the unit first exceeded $ 1,000 in 2013, it has increasingly started to gain the attention of financial institutions.
Over the weekend, it emerged that hedge fund Guggenheim Partners revealed in a regulatory filing that it plans to set aside around $ 530 million for bitcoin investment through a private equity vehicle.