Bitcoin passes $60,000 for first time as record-breaking run continues

Published March 13, 2021
A picture taken on February 6, 2018 shows a visual representation of the digital crypto-currency Bitcoin. — AFP
A picture taken on February 6, 2018 shows a visual representation of the digital crypto-currency Bitcoin. — AFP

Bitcoin briefly rose above $60,000 for the first time on Saturday, as increasing backing from corporate heavyweights helps the world's most popular virtual currency continue its record-breaking run.

The cryptocurrency hit an all-time high of $60,012 at 1149 GMT, according to the website CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin has been on a meteoric rise since March last year, when it stood at $5,000, spurred by online payments giant PayPal saying it would allow account holders to use cryptocurrency.

Last month Elon Musk's electric carmaker Tesla invested $1.5 billion in the virtual unit, while Twitter chief Jack Dorsey and rap mogul Jay-Z said they are creating a fund aimed at making Bitcoin “the internet's currency”.

Others jumping on the bandwagon include Wall Street player BNY Mellon, investment fund giant BlackRock and credit card titan Mastercard.

Bitcoin, which was launched back in 2009, hit the headlines in 2017 after soaring from less than $1,000 in January to almost $20,000 in December of the same year.

The virtual bubble then burst in subsequent days, with bitcoin's value then fluctuating wildly before sinking below $5,000 by October 2018.

However the last year's rise has been more steady, with investors and Wall Street finance giants wooed by dizzying growth, the opportunity for profit and asset diversification, and a safe store of value to guard against inflation.

Bitcoins are traded via a decentralised registry system known as a blockchain.

The system requires massive computer processing power in order to manage and implement transactions.

That power is provided by “miners”, who do so in the hope they will receive new bitcoins for validating transaction data.

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