Bitcoin has set several records in recent days. Last week, the digital currency hit both the $10,000 and $11,000 levels for the first time, crossing over $12,000 on Tuesday.
The dramatic surge has pushed the market cap of bitcoin to nearly $219 billion, according to industry website CoinMarketCap. The combined value of all the bitcoins in circulation has already exceeded the annual output of entire economies such as Portugal and Qatar.
Bitcoin’s unstoppable rise comes as UK money transfer application Revolut, announced plans to let its customers buy and sell cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin. The firm is currently applying for a European banking license that will make it the first bank in Europe to allow cryptocurrency purchases.
Meanwhile, top exchanges in the US like the CME and CBOE have announced plans to introduce futures contracts. The measure, which is expected to bring bitcoin to the world of ‘grown-up’ finance, has triggered the recent bull run.
The rapidly surging virtual currency made its debut in 2008, traveling the path from no value to a fraction of a penny by March 2010. Bitcoin’s rise in value in 2017 is unprecedented with the token worth just $1,000 on January 1 to more than $13,000 today. By 11:04 GMT on Wednesday the cryptocurrency was valued at $13,200.
While analysts in the traditional finance sector are debating over the bubble nature of bitcoin fever, governments across the world are attempting to take control of cryptocurrencies. The US Senate is considering a bill to outlaw the concealment of ownership of digital currency accounts by American citizens domestically and abroad.
At the same time, the UK authorities are cracking down on criminals using bitcoin to launder money and dodge tax. The step came as part of a broader update to EU rules on the virtual currency that would see bitcoin traders having to reveal their identities and report any suspicious activity.
Earlier this year, the Chinese government banned bitcoin trading along with initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country, which was once the world’s largest bitcoin trading market. At the time, the measure washed nearly 25 percent off the price of bitcoin. However, the cryptocurrency soon recovered.
Despite efforts taken by governments to control cryptocurrencies, more and more people across the world are taking their chances on the bitcoin lottery, with institutional investors getting ready for crypto trading.
Wall Street banking giant JPMorgan is reportedly mulling the idea of helping clients tap into the potential bitcoin futures market being prepared by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). Top institutional investors are going to offer bitcoin or similar products as an investment option within six months, according to Mike Novogratz, the former macro hedge fund manager at Fortress Investment Group.