Bitcoin mania reached new highs Thursday as the price of the digital currency jumped about 40% in 40 hours, smashing through five separate $1,000-barriers and surging past $16,000.
At one point Thursday, the price briefly jumped above $19,000 on some exchanges, before quickly retreating. At 5 p.m. in New York, bitcoin was trading at $16,109, up 17% for the day, before it bounced above $17,000 again in evening trading.
Even for bitcoin, which is notoriously volatile, the upward lurch was jarring, astounding outsiders and thrilling those who have piled into the digital currency in recent weeks. The rally has been sparked by the collision of bitcoin’s sudden faddish reputation and the anticipation of institutional investors entering the market for the currency for the first time.
“They are on the main stage now,” said Charles Hayter, the CEO of research firm CryptoCompare.
Bitcoin crossed the $15,000 milestone on Thursday just shy of 6 a.m. New York time and a few hours later surpassed $16,000. This was about 40 hours after it first crossed the $12,000 mark.
The most recent moves brought bitcoin’s year-to-date gain to about 1,560%. For many skeptics, though, that is proof that bitcoin is a massive bubble.
“It’s clear that people are putting money in simply because they think other people are going to put in money,” said Tim Swanson, the founder and research director at Post Oak Labs, a San Francisco advisory firm. “We’re seeing the actual illustration of…