Bitcoin passes $30,000 for the first time

PARIS (AFP) – Bitcoin, the leading virtual currency, saw its price pass US$30,000 on Saturday (Jan 2) for the first time, in just its latest record high.

The first decentralised cryptocurrency surpassed US$30,823.30 at 1313 GMT, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg news agency, having broken US$20,000 on Dec 16.

Analyst Timo Emden noted that “the appetite for risk”, which is reflected in buying of bitcoin, “remains unshakeable”.

“More historic highs could follow,” the Germany-based analyst added.

Just 12 years old, bitcoin has seen a meteoric rise since March, when it stood at US$5,000, spurred by online payments giant PayPal saying it would enable account holders to use cryptocurrency.

After PayPal’s announcement in October, analysts at investment banking giant JPMorgan Chase compared the cryptocurrency to gold.

“Bitcoin could compete more intensely with gold as an ‘alternative’ currency over the coming years given that millennials will become over time a more important component of investors’ universe,” they said.

A number of central banks have meanwhile responded to the rise of cryptocurrencies and the dwindling global use of cash by announcing plans for bank-backed digital units.

Several central banks including those of China and Sweden – but also the US Federal Reserve – are also testing digital applications in response to Facebook’s recent moves to produce its own digital unit, Libra.

Bitcoin's price has been spurred by PayPal saying it would enable account holders to use cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin’s price has been spurred by PayPal saying it would enable account holders to use cryptocurrency.PHOTO: REUTERS

Unregulated by any central bank, bitcoin emerged as an attractive option for investors with an appetite for the exotic – although criminals have also picked up on its under-the-radar appeal.

Debate, meanwhile, has raged over the status of the digital asset, launched in late 2008, as to whether it should be seen as a form of money, an asset or a commodity.

After the unit surpassed US$1,000 for the first time in 2013, it increasingly began to attract the attention of financial institutions and has experienced wild price swings.

By : AFP/ THE STRAITS TIMES

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