An endless supply of speculative buyers is being cited as the reason for Bitcoin’s value surging above $16,000 for the first time, despite renewed security fears.
Market analysts have watched, in amazement, the cryptocurrency’s leap from record to record in recent days and continued to ponder whether it is a bubble vulnerable to bursting.
But there was also food for thought on Thursday after a Bitcoin miner reported a major theft from its hefty wallet.
The marketing manager for NiceHash was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying Bitcoin worth $64m was taken during the security breach. It is unclear whether clients were affected.
The Solvenia-based marketplace, which mines Bitcoins on behalf of customers, said it had taken its service down while it investigated where the 4,700 Bitcoin had gone.
It said: “Clearly, this is a matter of deep concern and we are working hard to rectify the matter in the coming days.
“In addition to undertaking our own investigation, the incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are co-operating with them as a matter of urgency.”
It marked the most serious incident since the Mt. Gox saga in 2014 in which £387m in Bitcoin was allegedly stolen.
Cryptocurrency researcher CoinDesk reported Bitcoin passing $16,000 on Thursday afternoon amid eight days of gains which followed a wobble last week.
Some exchanges had it at more than $17,000 per unit.
The digital currency’s value is now up 1,500% in the year to date.
IG analyst Chris Beauchamp told the AFP news agency: “There seems no end to the supply of willing buyers, with the endless progression of higher prices simply fuelling the mania.”
There is hope price volatility will ease when futures trading begins from next week on the CBOE Futures Exchange.
US regulators have given the green light for three American exchanges in all, including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange while Nasdaq is also considering offering Bitcoin futures in early 2018.
The cryptocurrency market, currently valued by CoinDesk at just shy of $400bn, is facing demands for greater regulatory scrutiny while the EU is to require online platforms to carry out due diligence on customers and report suspicious transactions.