Bitcoin Hits Fresh Record, $13,000 in Sight

Bitcoin (virtual currency) coins are seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris July 11, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

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The price of the digital currency bitcoin touched fresh record highs on Wednesday, continuing its meteoric rally from less than $1,000 at the start of the year.

On the U.S.-based Bitfinex exchange, Bitcoin was at $12,635.00 by 07:51 AM ET (12:51 GMT) after peaking at $12,819.00, the highest level in its nine-year history.

Prices have rallied ahead of the start of bitcoin futures trading, a potentially major step in the evolution of the digital currency as it moves from the periphery of finance towards the mainstream.

Cboe Global Markets said Monday it is launching futures trading in the cryptocurrency beginning December 10.

The announcement came after CME Group (NASDAQ:CME), the world’s largest derivative exchange operator, said its bitcoin futures would launch December 18.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Friday it would allow both exchanges to launch bitcoin futures.

Bitcoin’s price has risen dramatically in 2017. For the year, bitcoin is up around 1,000%, having started 2017 at $968.23 and is the biggest gainer of all asset classes this year.

Its breath-taking rise has prompted warnings of an increasingly dangerous speculative bubble and given rise to comparisons to the 17th century Dutch tulip mania and more recently the dotcom bubble.

Last week Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein claimed that Bitcoin was “a vehicle to perpetrate fraud” as the value of the cryptocurrency plunged 20% in less than 24 hours.

Blankfein became the latest boss of a major bank to criticize bitcoin, after JP Morgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon described it as fraud that would ultimately blow up.

Elsewhere in cryptocurrency trading, Bitcoin Cash was last at $1,401.30, while Bitcoin Goldwas at $262.38.

Ethereum, the second most valuable cryptocurrency by market cap after bitcoin, was at $438.26.

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