The popular cryptocurrency bitcoin has reached the $1,500 level for the first time ever. Around 3 a.m. GMT, bitcoin is trading at $1,505, according to CoinDesk.
Bitcoin has repeatedly hit record highs this year despite fierce debate among its prominent users over how best to scale the cryptocurrency. The split in the bitcoin community largely relates to how to increase transaction speeds and whether the cryptocurrency will first and foremost serve as a store of value or whether it will become a currency used for daily transactions.
The cryptocurrency has also kept rising despite a decision by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to reject a proposed bitcoin-focused exchange traded fund (ETF). An ETF is a fund that tracks an index, commodity, bonds or a basket of assets and is traded on a stock exchange. The possibility of a bitcoin ETF has driven speculation in the bitcoin market, which remains highly volatile despite trending up.
Bitcoin began 2017 just below $1,000. The cryptocurrency quickly shot up into $1100s before falling into the $700s and then rising again. Over the past month, the price of bitcoin has increased sharply, rising from below $1,200 to above $1,500.
In recent weeks, other cryptocurrencies have also soared to record highs. Ether, which is powered by the Ethereum blockchain, began the year below $20. Ether has soared to above $80 and is currently trading at $79. Dash, which has a smaller market cap, has shot up from below $20 to above $90.
For some background on the bitcoin scaling debate, watch the following interview: