BITCOIN today finally completed a stop-start ascent to exceed its record value of $19,783 - with advocates forecasting the crypto-currency will now swiftly smash the $20,000 barrier.
The price of a single unit of the digital token rallied 8.7% to rise above the all-time high, a short-lived spike set amid a trader frenzy in December 2017, hitting $19,857 at just after 3pm GMT.
It is the culmination of an extraordinary rebound from a collapse below $4,000 at the outset of the pandemic in March, with evangelists dismissing volatility concerns to insist this time would be different.
Antoni Trenchev, managing partner of Nexo, said: "Back in March, I predicted that BTC could reach $50,000 by end-2020 and now there is increasing evidence of that upward trend.
“Markets like round numbers — Bitcoin passed $16,000, then $18,000 in a matter of days. The next stop is $20,000. ”
Guy Hirsch, managing director for the US at the trading platform eToro, said simply: “Bitcoin’s moment has arrived."
The latest rally has been buoyed by the general move toward risk among global investors, further fuelled by growing mainstream acceptance (Paypal now accepts it on its platform), celebrity and investor endorsements, its perceived inflation-proof status and stimulus from central banks driving interest rates to record lows. US-based asset manager Fidelity Investments launched a Bitcoin fund earlier this year.
For Bitcoin and its fans, today marks a momentous occasion in a decade-long life cycle marked by rapid rises and even steeper descents. The December 2017 record was followed by a vertiginous 70% crash from which it has only now recovered.
That said, Bitcoin remains highly volatile and has posted an average daily move of 2.7% this year, against swings of 0.9% for the price of gold - with which it has now been compared as a store of wealth.
Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak + Co., says it could reach as high as $22,000 before topping out. He said: “It is very unlikely that it will be anywhere near as big as the 2018 decline.”
Glen Goodman, author of The Crypto Trader, said: “All the talk of ‘Tulip Mania’ in the 2017 boom is absent now. Once the historic Dutch tulip bubble burst it never recovered, while Bitcoin has now shown it has real staying power."