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Bitcoin climbed as much as 7.9 per cent on Thursday morning as it surged above $14,000, extending this month’s advance to more than 40 per cent. The price of the cryptocurrency touched $14,399.99 (£10,764), a record, according to Bloomberg pricing.

ASX, the main exchange operator for equities and derivatives in Australia, on Thursday said it will start using blockchain to process equity transactions. Blockchain is the ledger software that makes bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies possible, and Digital Asset, the startup run by former JPMorgan banker Blythe Masters, will supply the technology.

Blythe Masters tells banks that blockchain will change everything.

Bitcoin also got a boost from a successful test of the Lightning Network, which promises to provide a new way to pay with bitcoin. The technology would move some transactions away from the blockchain by allowing buyers and sellers to transact privately and later broadcast their activity to the public network. Supporters say it will ease the on-going congestion plaguing bitcoin.

On Wednesday, the three companies behind the technology — Lightning Labs, Blockstream and ACINQ — successfully made multiple payments. This is the first time their system has been used on bitcoin’s actual blockchain, according to Elizabeth Stark, head of Lightning Labs. She said this paves the way toward testing with outside businesses.

“We had done some tests before on the main net, but this was the first payment on the bitcoin blockchain across implementations,” Stark said in an email. “The stakes are quite a bit higher when it comes to releasing for the main bitcoin network.”

The price of bitcoin cash fell after the news, slumping 7.4 per cent to $1,321, according to prices on Bitfinex. The rival offers a separate solution to bitcoin’s congestion issue.

Bitcoin’s latest price move will add to a chorus coming from naysayers who assert the speculative frenzy is an asset bubble waiting to pop. The largest cryptocurrency by market value has soared from less than $1,000 at the start of the year, up more than 1,300 per cent.

Cboe Global Markets has said it will start trading bitcoin futures on 10 December, while CME’s contracts are set to debut on 18 December. Nasdaq is planning to offer futures in 2018, according to a person familiar with the matter. Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s Cantor Exchange is creating a bitcoin derivative, and startup LedgerX already offers options.

Bloomberg


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