Business

Bitcoin defies bubble fears and hits record $16,000

SINGAPORE Bitcoin smashed through the US$12,000 (S$16,000) barrier for the first time yesterday, extending the virtual currency's stratospheric rise to new records as it gears up to take its place on mainstream markets.

The controversial cryptocurrency, which has been used to buy everything from a pizza to manicures, touched a new high of US$12,590 in Asian trade before dipping back to US$12,567, according to Bloomberg News.

Bitcoin - which came into being in 2009 as a bit of encrypted software and has no central bank backing it - has risen from a 2017 low of $752 in mid-January and has surged dramatically in the past month.

Observers say the increase is due to growing interest from Wall Street, with plans for mainstream markets to offer trading in the currency's futures despite concerns from some in the financial industry about its volatility.

US regulators last week cleared the way for Bitcoin futures to trade on major exchanges, including the world's biggest futures centre, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. - AFP

BUSINESS & FINANCE