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Bitcoin surges past $50,000 for first time

February 16, 2021

The cryptocurrency's value has jumped by nearly 75% since the start of this year as more companies, including Tesla, have lent their support. The surge also coincides with volatility on the markets during the pandemic.

Bitcoin golden physical coin illustration on United States Dollar banknotes
The popular virtual currency has seen its value soar since the start of this yearImage: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/picture-alliance

Bitcoin cracked the $50,000 (€41,100) threshold on Tuesday in midday European trading.

At about 1235 UTC, the popular cryptocurrency rose to its all-time high of $50,547.70 — jumping up 4.4% since Monday.

It later dropped slightly down to $49,500 at about 1255 GMT. 

Why is the price going up?

Bitcoin's value has surged almost 75% this calendar year alone as the digital currency gains more mainstream support.

Its lowest ebb in the last 52 weeks is a little over $4,000, more than 12 times less than its current price.

Nigeria cracks down on cryptocurrencies

Among the currency's famous backers are Elon Musk. In early February, Bitcoin's value surged after Musk's Tesla announced it bought $1.5 billion of Bitcoin.

The company also said it would accept the currency from those who wish to purchase Tesla cars.

Following the news, Blue Ridge Bank said it would start providing access to Bitcoin at its branches — making the Charlottesville, Virgina bank the first commercial bank to do so.

The oldest bank in the United States, BNY Mellon, followed suit.

Mastercard has also said it would accept the currency despite skepticism from regulators.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is one of the world's most popular digital currencies.

It was launched online in 2009, but made headlines in 2017 after its price soared from under $1,000 in January to almost $20,000 in December that year.

The virtual Bitcoin bubble later burst, but growing corporate support has changed the currency's outlook this time.

Bitcoins are traded online via blockchain, a decentralized registry system that requires large amounts of computer processing power to manage transactions.

rs/msh (AFP, Reuters)