Bitcoin, the top virtual currency, briefly spiked to a new high on Monday, heading towards $ 20,000 per unit.
The coin broke through its previous high of $ 19,783 to hit 19,800 and some industry analysts are forecasting that it will soon break above the 20,000 resistance point.
The state of the digital asset, launched in late 2008, has been debated about whether it should be viewed as a form of money, an asset, or a commodity.
Monday saw it rise 8 percent, with an annual increase of more than 150 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, a far cry from the few cents it was trading at in its early days, which followed the global financial crisis.
In March it stood at just $ 5,000.
The unit, which regularly sees its value swirl, had fallen back to & 19,380 by midafternoon, for a 6.5 percent daily gain, leaving its total market capitalization at around $ 360 billion.
Since October, “digital gold” has risen 40 percent, notably driven by online payments giant PayPal that says it would allow account holders to use cryptocurrencies.
The California-based firm also said that the new service will also allow customers to buy, hold and sell units of cryptocurrencies 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 following months.
OANDA senior market analyst Craig Erlam said on Monday that bitcoin price levels are now “entering uncharted territory” and could rise further as financial institutions show increasing interest in digital currencies. .
Several central banks have responded to the rise of cryptocurrencies and the dwindling global use of cash by announcing plans for bank-backed digital units that would be “risk-free,” such as fiat notes and coins.
Several central banks, including those in China and Sweden, but also the US Federal Reserve, are also testing digital apps in response to recent moves by Facebook to produce its own digital unit, Libra.
Not regulated by any central bank, bitcoin emerged as an attractive option for investors with an appetite for the exotic, although criminals have also seen its appeal off the radar.
After the unit topped $ 1,000 for the first time in 2013, it began to attract more and more attention from financial institutions.
At the end of the week, it emerged that hedge fund Guggenheim Partners revealed in a regulatory filing that it is considering earmarking around $ 530 million for an investment in bitcoin through a private investment vehicle.