(Reuters) – Digital currency Bitcoin extended its record smashing rally on Saturday, beginning the year with a surge over $30,000 for the first time, with ever more traders and investors betting that it is on its way to becoming a mainstream payment method.
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The price of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency traded as high as $31,824 early Saturday, with almost all other markets closed over the first weekend in 2021. It was last up about 8% at $31,743. By early Saturday afternoon, the price had hit $32643.
Bitcoin advanced more than 300% in 2020, and with the latest leg higher has added more than 50% since crossing $20,000 just two weeks ago.
The blockchain currency has only been around for a decade or so, and in 2020 it has seen demand grow from larger U.S. investors, attracted by its perceived inflation-hedging qualities and potential for quick gains, as well as expectations it would become a mainstream payments method.
Investors said limited supply of bitcoin – produced by so-called “mining” computers that validate blocks of transactions by competing to solve mathematical puzzles – has helped power upward moves over recent days.
Some also saw it as a safe-haven play during the COVID-19 pandemic, akin to gold.
It trades on numerous exchanges, the largest of which is Coinbase, which is itself preparing to go public and become the first such platform to list on Wall Street.
Multiple competitor cryptocurrencies that use similar blockchain, or electronic ledger, technology. Ethereum, the second biggest, gained 465% in 2020 and was up 5.3% on Saturday.
(Reporting by Alden Bentley; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Diane Craft)