The price of a single bitcoin touched the highest ever $14,000 mark on December 7, Thursday, as investors piled in, extending the virtual currency’s stratospheric rise to new records as it gears up to take its place on mainstream markets. According to Bloomberg News, the cryptocurrency touched a new a high of $14,400 in Asian trade before slipping back to $13,900.
The rally came just a day after the virtual currency hit the $12,000 mark for the first time. The world’s most popular virtual currency allows people to buy goods and services — everything from an ice cream to — and exchange money without involving banks, credit card issuers or other third parties.
Bitcoin has a fuzzy history. Earlier this year, it was in news for being used by hackers to demand ransom following the infamous ransomware attacks. and allegedly been used for the purchase of illegal drugs online.
But its recent mercurial rise has reportedly been made possible by speculative investors. Observers say the increase is due to growing interest from Wall Street, with plans for mainstream markets to offer trading in the currency’s futures despite concerns from some in the financial industry about its volatility. Bitcoin, which has been around since 2009 as a bit of encrypted software and sans a central bank backing it, has risen from a 2017 low of $752 in mid-January, to a dramatic surge in the past month.
Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not tied to a bank or government and allows users to spend money anonymously. They are basically lines of computer code that are digitally signed each time they travel from one owner to the next. Transactions can be made anonymously, making the currency popular with libertarians as well as tech enthusiasts, speculators and criminals. Some businesses have jumped on the bitcoin bandwagon amid a flurry of media coverage. Still, its popularity is low compared with cash and cards, and many individuals and businesses won’t accept bitcoins for payments. The bitcoin network works by harnessing individuals’ greed for the collective good. A network of tech-savvy users called miners keep the system honest by pouring their computing power into a blockchain, a global running tally of every bitcoin transaction.