A bitcoin logo on a mobile phone.
Omar Marques | SOPA Images, LightRocket | Getty Images
Bitcoin skyrocketed close to $13,000 on Wednesday, notching a 17-month high and continuing a stunning turnaround for the cryptocurrency in 2019.
The digital currency surged as high as $12,919 in early morning trade, according to CoinDesk’s bitcoin price index, which tracks prices from various exchanges.
That was the highest level the virtual coin had traded at since January 2018. It’s now up 230% since the start of this year. Bitcoin last traded about 11% higher on Wednesday to $12,565.
It was the biggest gainer among some of the most popular cryptocurrencies, with ether up nearly 6% at $332 and XRP just 0.2% higher at about 47 cents. Bitcoin’s dominance of the market now stands at over 60%, according to CoinMarketCap.
Bitcoin has enjoyed a spectacular rally this year as investors look to major companies like Facebook getting involved in the crypto space. The social media giant announced plans for a cryptocurrency called Libra last week. The digital token will be used for payments and is being overseen by a consortium of companies including Visa and Uber.
There are other theories behind bitcoin’s move higher, including the idea that it may be viewed as a hedge amid ongoing U.S.-China trade uncertainty. Another reason for the rally, experts say, is that traders are anticipating a so-called “halvening” event next year that cuts the rewards to bitcoin miners in half.
The story in 2019 is in stark contrast with what happened in the market last year. Bitcoin plummeted more than 70% over the course of 2018, with other cryptocurrencies also falling sharply. That was after an almost $20,000 record high hit in late 2017.