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Bitcoin continued to climb Wednesday, surging above the $51,000 level for the first time.
The red-hot cryptocurrency hit a fresh record price of $51,715 at around 4:50 a.m. ET, according to data from Coin Metrics. It was last trading over 5% higher at $51,222.
Bitcoin was created in 2009, not long after the global financial crisis. It has gone from a protest against the banking system to something of a “digital gold” that is beginning to catch on with mainstream investors.
On Wall Street, major investment banks appear to be warming to bitcoin. JPMorgan recently said it’s looking seriously at the asset class, while Goldman Sachs has also shown an interest in crypto. Meanwhile, a division of Morgan Stanley is reportedly considering adding bitcoin to its list of possible bets.
Meanwhile, companies like PayPal and Mastercard have made significant moves to support cryptocurrencies. And Tesla last week said it had invested $1.5 billion into bitcoin and planned to accept the digital currency as payment for its products.
Bitcoin’s latest rally has reminded many investors of its massive ascent to nearly $20,000 in 2017, which was followed by a sharp plunge the following year that saw the digital coin lose 80% of its value.
But the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency has since staged a fierce comeback, more than quadrupling in 2020 and gaining over 70% since the start of this year.
Bitcoin’s proponents say it’s down to increased demand from institutional investors as well as corporate buying of the digital currency from the likes of Tesla, Square and MicroStrategy. Skeptics, on the other hand, worry bitcoin may be the biggest market bubble in financial markets.
Strategists at JPMorgan said in a note Tuesday that, unless bitcoin’s volatility starts to ebb, its current price “looks unsustainable.” Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have gained a reputation for their extreme price swings.