Bitcoin prices were on a record run Tuesday as the No. 1 cryptocurrency nears its loftiest level in its history.
At last check, bitcoin BTCUSD, +5.28% was changing hands at roughly $19,400 putting it above its December 2017 closing record at $19,166.98, according to Dow Jones Market Data, using data from CoinDesk based on a 7 p.m. Eastern closing time.
Bitcoins are also within shouting distance, about 2.3% shy, of an intraday peak at $19,783,21, as of Tuesday morning trade in New York.
The renewed run-up for bitcoin, which was created in 2009, comes as cryptocurrencies are being lifted by growing mainstream interest, as central banks weigh the case for digital currencies and payment platforms move to include them.
Last month, PayPal Holdings PYPL, +1.89% said it would allow customers to buy cryptocurrency through their accounts and use cryptocurrency for merchant payments, which lent some legitimacy of the nascent asset.
However, doubts remain about the staying power of digital assets broadly, even if some critics have endorsed the blockchain, or distributed-ledger technology, that underpins genuine cryptographic currencies.
In a recent interview, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon described bitcoin as “not his cup of tea,” reiterating his criticism of the digital asset as mostly used for criminal activities. His comments come even as the bank he runs launched its own digital asset, JPM Coin, to help facilitate interbank payments.
Meanwhile, billionaire hedge-fund maestro Ray Dalio challenged social media to disabuse him of his main criticisms of the crypto: namely, that it is poor as a medium of exchange, and too volatile as a store of value.
That said, proponents of the asset are aplenty.
ARK Investment Management CEO Catherine Wood told Barron’s last Thursday that bitcoin could hit $500,000, noting that the digital currency is “the equivalent to the dollar in the fiat currency system.”
“That’s a pretty exalted role.”
Bitcoin’s rally this year, coming almost three years since its last record, differs from its 2017 run inasmuch as fanatics of the asset appear less fervent in their enthusiasm for digital coins, even as bitcoins boast a stunning year-to-date return compared against traditional assets.
Indeed, bitcoins are up nearly 170% so far in 2020, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +1.32% is up 3.7% so far this year, the S&P 500 index SPX, +1.25% has gained 10.7% over the same period and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.91% has advanced 32% in the year to date. Gold GOLD, -0.30%, meanwhile, has climbed 19% thus far this year and is staging a reversal of much of its rally as viable COVID-19 vaccines emerge.
One of the few assets bitcoin hasn’t surpassed this year is shares of electric-vehicle maker Tesla TSLA, +5.06%, which boasts an over 520% return in the year to date.