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Bitcoin surges past $50,000 for first time

By AFP - Feb 16,2021 - Last updated at Feb 16,2021

This photo taken on September 24, 2020, shows a physical imitation of a Bitcoin at a cryptocurrency ‘Bitcoin Change’ shop, near Grand Bazaar, in Istanbul (AFP file photo)

LONDON — Bitcoin soared above $50,000 for the first time on Tuesday as an increasing number of corporate heavyweights back the world’s most popular virtual currency.

At around 12:35 GMT, Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $50,547.70, marking a 4.4-per cent gain since Monday.

Bitcoin, once the preserve of internet geeks and hobbyists, has since exploded in popularity and has now rocketed by almost 75 per cent in value so far this year.

“The crypto king has crossed the 50K price level for the first time as institutions are all over it,” said AvaTrade analyst Naeem Aslam.

“There is a lot of FOMO [fear of missing out] among traders as the price is going through the roof and we have limited supply.”

It later pulled back to stand at $49,080.30 at about 13:45 GMT.

“The rally has still a lot of power left and the move is going to continue towards the actual target of $100,000,” Aslam said.

“Of course, there will be some bumps but investors should consider them as an opportunity to bag some bargains.”

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

The unit blasted its way past $45,000 last week after Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla invested $1.5 billion in the virtual unit.

In a further boost, Tesla also unveiled plans to accept the cryptocurrency from customers buying its vehicles.

Wall Street player BNY Mellon then jumped aboard the Bitcoin bandwagon, announcing plans to accept digital currencies.

The moves came after Mastercard also announced it would accept the unit, even as many regulators remain sceptical.

Adding further legitimacy, Twitter chief Jack Dorsey revealed last week that he and rap mogul Jay-Z were creating a fund aimed at making bitcoin “the Internet’s currency”.

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, strengthening corporate support has transformed the outlook this time around, commentators say.

“Growing corporate support for the crypto makes this a very different market to what it was in 2017,” noted Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.

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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