Bitcoin tops $60,000 mark for first time in its history

Analysts say approval of massive US stimulus package is helping fuel record rise in the cryptocurrency’s value

A visual representation of Bitcoin, at the 'Bitcoin Change' shop in Tel Aviv, February 6, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP)
A visual representation of Bitcoin, at the 'Bitcoin Change' shop in Tel Aviv, February 6, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Bitcoin passed the $60,000 mark for the first time on Saturday, with analysts saying the giant US stimulus package helped boost the world’s most popular virtual currency on its record-breaking run.

The cryptocurrency hit $60,197 at 12:34 GMT and continued to hover around $60,000, according to the website CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin has tripled in value over the last three months — it was worth $20,000 in December — bolstered by increasing backing from corporate heavyweights. analyst Neil Wilson said that in recent days “Bitcoin went up as investors looked to the imminent arrival of stimulus checks.”

Individuals in the US earning up to $75,000 will receive a cheque for $1,400 from this weekend, after President Joe Biden signed his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan into law this week.

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 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 decentralized 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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