The virtual currency Bitcoin, a decentralized form of money that approximates cash on the internet, has never been worth more. The price of a single bitcoin has soared above $1,000 on Mt. Gox, one of the main exchanges where the currency is bought and sold. As of this writing, the price is $1,020 on Mt. Gox but is averaging closer to $945 on other exchanges. This means the total market is worth around $11.4 billion.
Bitcoin has seen several massive price hikes before which were all followed by crashes to varying degrees, but this is the most extreme yet. The valuation comes as several major events have boosted confidence in Bitcoin's viability as a universal currency. Those include the closure of Silk Road, the illegal drug bazaar that initially gave the currency a bad name; the currency's first Congressional hearing; and its rising popularity in China.
The market price of Bitcoin over the last 60 days. (Blockchain.info)
The currency has also attracted investors from Silicon Valley and elsewhere, who are putting real-world money into Bitcoin-related startups in addition to buying it up themselves.
Several major events have boosted confidence in Bitcoin
The price was around $200 on October 27th, meaning the currency has increased almost five times in value in just one month. Sound like a bubble inflated by greedy speculators? It probably is. But that doesn't mean the four-year-old experimental currency won't be around for a long time.