Bitcoin’s growing just about as fast as we can write about it — as are a number of other cryptocurrencies, for that matter.
It only took just over one day for the bitcoin price to break the record it set earlier this week. On Thursday (May 11) of this week, bitcoin saw values break above $1,800 for the first time in history.
It’s a crazy amount of growth — up a full 81 percent since the beginning of 2017 and nearly triple (299 percent) the value at this time last year.
At the time of writing on Thursday afternoon, CoinDesk pegged bitcoin at $1,832.35, up 4.30percent for the day, though down from a high of a 1,839.23 $ earlier in the morning. The digital currency’s market cap stood at just under $30 billion with some 16.3 million in circulation.
With the latest rise, exchanges have seen a dampening of the widened exchange spread trends over the past few weeks. Bitfinex saw trading about $50 higher than average, a significant decrease from recent $100 disparities.
With growth like this, the “outrageous prediction” that bitcoin could hit $2,000 in 2017 doesn’t seem quite so out there. (To be fair, the exact circumstances around the price rise from Saxo’s report were far different.)
The most recent rise, which really began to take off at the tail end of April, still has no readily apparent catalyst on the market. One hypothesis is that investor optimism is rising in response to the SEC’s decision to review its rejection of the Winklevoss bitcoin-based ETF.
That could certainly be a part of it, though it’s more likely related to legalization in Japan, as well as movement in South Korea, Russia and Mexico. Additionally, the rise in value has also come at a time when a number of global institutions and policy makers have boosted investigations into blockchain technologies en masse.
Because it’s not just bitcoin. Practically every cryptocurrency has seen an uptick in value in the last month. Ethereum (ETH), for instance, has more than octupled (up 877 percent) since the New Year, worth some $89 at the time of writing.
The total crypto-market cap has grown from $27.8 billion to over $53.8 billion in just over 30 days. Whether or not all of this rapid growth represents a digital bubble looking to burst is an open question among analysts.
Recently, Chinese media Caixin reported movement in the drawn out investigation and on-site inspection of bitcoin exchanges by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) have come to an end.
The report suggests that the PBoC will look to levy fines against major exchanges including OKCoin, BTC-e and others for inadequate anti-money-laundering measures. The volume of fines and whether further action will take place are still unclear — a report is set to be published next month.
Also unclear is an exact date for when (or if) normal exchange operations will be able to resume.
Nearly two months have passed since Chinese bitcoin exchanges were first scheduled to unfreeze digital currency withdrawals. Chinese exchange volumes, once 90 percent of global activity, have decreased to about 10 percent.
While service upgrades have long been completed by Chinese exchanges, officials and the PBoC had been at odds over the know-your-customer rules to be enforced on reopening. With the latest news, it appears that a conclusion, whatever the particulars may be, will be reached by next month’s report from China’s central bank.