Bitcoin rallied to a record Wednesday, topping $66,000 for the first time, amid a wave of excitement about how the financial establishment increasingly accepts the digital currency's rise.
Bitcoin was trading at $66,439, up 5.9%, as of 12:40 p.m. ET, after earlier climbing as high as $66,974.77.
It has roared back after sinking below $30,000 during the summer to top its prior record set in April. That previous all-time high was nearly $64,889, according to CoinDesk.
The surge has come as more businesses, professional investors, and even the government of El Salvador buy into Bitcoin, further broadening its base beyond its initial core of fanatics.
The latest converts came into the world of crypto on Tuesday, when the first exchange-traded fund linked to Bitcoin found massive interest from investors.
Shares of the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF changed hands 24.1 million times in a resounding debut.
ProShares, an exchange trading company, listed an ETF that tracks Bitcoin futures on the New York Stock Exchange, the New York Times reported.
“2021 will be remembered for this milestone,” said Michael Sapir, the C.E.O. of ProShares, in an interview with the news outlet.
It was off to another strong start Wednesday, with volume topping 19.6 million within the first three hours of trading.
The ETF doesn’t invest directly in Bitcoin. It instead invests in the futures market tied to Bitcoin, but the industry sees the ETF bringing in a new class of investors.
Someone with an old-school brokerage account can buy the ETF, for example, without opening a trading account for crypto.
Investors are getting more interested in Bitcoin because they always look for assets whose prices move independently of everything else in their portfolios.
One school of thought says Bitcoin can offer investors protection from high inflation, and some fans see it as akin to “digital gold,” though it doesn't have a long track record to back that up.
More high-minded fans say digital assets are simply the future of finance, allowing transactions to sidestep intermediaries and fees with a currency that’s not beholden to any government.
Cryptocurrencies are still very far from winning over everyone, though. Critics point to how they're still not widely used as forms of payment. They also criticize how much energy is used by the cryptosystem, which adds to climate-changing emissions.
The biggest threat, meanwhile, is all the regulatory scrutiny shining on it.
Veronica De La Cruz at Newsy first reported this story.