Bitcoin breaks USD 7,000

LONDON — Bitcoin’s rapid rise continues, with the cryptocurrency shooting past $US7,000 per coin on Thursday morning.

Bitcoin past $US7,000 per coin for the first time and, at 9.05 a.m. GMT (5.05 a.m. ET), the digital currency is up 3.8% against the dollar to $US7,001.39:

Bitcoin has been on a tear over the last week, posting record highs on consecutive days. The digital currency had not been higher than $US6,300 at the start of the week but has now gained $US700 on that level in just a few days.

The recent run has been helped by news on Tuesday that CME Group, the world’s largest exchange operator, plans to introduce bitcoin future contracts in response to client demand. This is seen as a stamp of legitimacy from the world of traditional finance for bitcoin.

Traders are also speculating that this week’s bull run is partly helped by a coming “fork” in bitcoin’s underlying software. The SegWit2x software update is scheduled for November 16 and could split bitcoin in two, creating a new currency.

This has happened in the past with bitcoin cash and bitcoin gold and, in those cases, bitcoin holders got those new coins free. As a result, investors may be piling into bitcoin in the hopes of a SegWit2x dividend.

Bitcoin has been on a tear in 2017, rising by over 500% against the dollar this year. The price rise has been driven by increasing mainstream adoption and awareness of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies more generally. At least 55 cryptocurrency hedge funds have sprung up this year, many of them focusing on bitcoin.

BitcoinMarkets InsiderBitcoin’s performance against the dollar over the last year.

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