The value of the cryptocurrency bitcoin has surged to a record high, reaching $63,000 (£45,800).
The cryptocurrency, which has risen in value by 450% in the last six months, continued to climb by a further 5% during trading on Tuesday.
Bitcoin’s price has more than doubled since the start of 2021. The digital currency has been on a rollercoaster ride in the last year, and was trading at about only $7,000 in April 2020.
The smaller, rival cryptocurrency Ethereum also rose on Tuesday, reaching its own record high of $2,205.
The fresh records were set a day before the launch of the US’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, on Wall Street’s tech-heavy Nasdaq stock exchange.
Coinbase’s listing has been viewed by cryptocurrency fans as another sign of its growing mainstream acceptance among investors and financial institutions, and as a means of payment.
The price of bitcoin soared towards $60,000 in February amid news of high-profile purchases of the digital currency, including by the electric car company Tesla, run by the billionaire Elon Musk. Tesla announced at the time it had bought $1.5bn in bitcoin and said it might soon accept payments in the currency.
Musk, who briefly became the world’s richest man before a slump in the Tesla share price, has previously changed his Twitter biography to “#bitcoin”.
Cryptocurrency trading is also enjoying a boom in Turkey, as investors seek refuge from the country’s economic turmoil and surging inflation.
However, cryptocurrencies remain controversial, and global regulators including the Bank of England are sceptical, on account of their volatility and vulnerability to theft or hacking.
Bitcoin and other digital currencies have also come under increasing fire for their environmental impact, given the huge amount of energy required to create them.
New bitcoins are created by “mining” coins, a process that requires computers to carry out complex calculations. The more bitcoins there are, the longer it takes to mine new coin and the more electricity is used in the process.
The energy usage attributable to bitcoin alone is equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of Argentina, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, a measuring tool made by researchers at Cambridge University.