Bitcoin was trading above R222 000 on Luno, a local cryptocurrency exchange, on Thursday morning. It crossed the R100 000 mark on Luno just five weeks ago, on 1 November.
This comes after the cryptocurrency powered through the US$12 000, $13 000 and then $14 000 levels, all in the past 24 hours, sparking growing fears of a bubble.
Bitcoin climbed as much as 7.9% on Thursday as it surged above $14 000, extending this month’s advance to more than 40%. The price of the cryptocurrency touched $14 399.99, a record.
ASX, the main exchange operator for equities and derivatives in Australia, on Thursday said it will start using blockchain to process equity transactions. Blockchain is the ledger software that makes bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies possible, and Digital Asset Holdings, the start-up run by former JPMorgan Chase & Co banker Blythe Masters, will supply the technology.
Bitcoin also got a boost from a successful test of the Lightning Network, which promises to provide a new way to pay with bitcoin. The technology would move some transactions away from the blockchain by allowing buyers and sellers to transact privately and later broadcast their activity to the public network. Supporters say it will ease the ongoing congestion plaguing bitcoin.
On Wednesday, the three companies behind the technology — Lightning Labs, Blockstream and ACINQ — successfully made multiple payments. This is the first time their system has been used on bitcoin’s actual blockchain, according to Elizabeth Stark, head of Lightning Labs. She said this paves the way toward testing with outside businesses.
“We had done some tests before on the main net, but this was the first payment on the bitcoin blockchain across implementations,” Stark said in an e-mail. “The stakes are quite a bit higher when it comes to releasing for the main bitcoin network.”
The price of bitcoin cash fell after the news, slumping 7.4% to $1 321, according to prices on Bitfinex. The rival offers a separate solution to bitcoin’s congestion issue.
Bitcoin’s latest price move will add to a chorus coming from naysayers who assert the speculative frenzy is an asset bubble waiting to pop. The largest cryptocurrency by market value has soared from less than $1 000 at the start of the year, up more than 1 300%.
Cboe Global Markets has said it will start trading bitcoin futures on 10 December, while CME Group’s contracts are set to debut on 18 December. Nasdaq is planning to offer futures in 2018, according to a person familiar with the matter. Cantor Fitzgerald’s Cantor Exchange is creating a bitcoin derivative, and start-up LedgerX already offers options.
Bitcoin was trading up 6% at $14 184.99 as of 1.30pm Tokyo time. — Reported by Adam Haigh of Bloomberg with additional reporting by TechCentral