Bitcoin broke above the $12,000 mark Wednesday morning Asia-time, as the cryptocurrency continued its march higher.
As of 11:33 a.m. SIN/HK, the digital token was selling for $12,198.57, according to industry site CoinDesk.
The asset began 2017 at less than $1,000 per token, but it has been on an absolute tear in recent months: It crossed $5,000 in October and touched above $11,000 for the first time less than two months later, according to CoinDesk data.
With Wednesday morning’s spike, the cryptocurrency now has a total market value of about $203 billion — more than twice Goldman Sachs’ market cap.
All of the digital asset’s explosive growth has come against a backdrop of steady criticism from many financial luminaries.
For one, Stephen Roach, Yale University senior fellow and the former Asia chairman and chief economist at investment bank Morgan Stanley, told CNBC on Tuesday that he was deeply skeptical of investing in bitcoin.
“This is a toxic concept for investors,” Roach, described by Yale as one of Wall Street’s most influential economists, told CNBC.
“This is a dangerous speculative bubble by any shadow or stretch of the imagination.”
“I’ve never seen a chart of a security where the price really has a vertical pattern to it. And bitcoin is the most vertical of any pattern I’ve ever seen in my career,” he added.
Yet many elements of the financial world have embraced the new crypto asset class: Major exchanges like the CME and CBOE have legitimized the currency’s investment credentials by saying they plan to introduce futures contracts to their respective exchanges.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system. It is the first decentralized digital currency – the system works without a central repository or single administrator. The network is peer-to-peer and transactions take place between users directly through the use of cryptography, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Bitcoin was invented by an unknown person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto and released as open-source software in 2009.
Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining. They can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services. As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment. Research produced by Cambridge University estimates that in 2017, there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin.