Bitcoin is showing no signs of slowing down.
On the same day the digital currency topped $16,000 for a single unit, a massive digital heist took place that emptied out $70 million (£51 million) worth of the digital currency from a marketplace based in Slovenia.
NiceHash was the victim of cyber hackers that emptied 4,700 Bitcoins from its digital wallet.
The company says it has taken its service down while it investigates the heist and hasn’t made it clear whether or not clients were affected.
“Clearly, this is a matter of deep concern and we are working hard to rectify the matter in the coming days,” it said in a statement.
“In addition to undertaking our own investigation, the incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are co-operating with them as a matter of urgency.”
Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency continues its meteoric rise – with some market analysts predicting that the bubble will burst.
One of the world’s most popular Bitcoin exchanges, Coinbase, has suffered with record amounts of internet traffic as speculators look to sign up and get hold of some Bitcoin for themselves.
Active accounts on CoinBase have jumped from 5.5 million at the beginning of 2017 to over 13.3 million by the end of last month.
What’s more, online video game service Steam has also announced today that it will no longer be accepting Bitcoin on its platform due to the volatility of the decentralised currency.
IG analyst Chris Beauchamp told the AFP news agency: “There seems no end to the supply of willing buyers, with the endless progression of higher prices simply fuelling the mania.”
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin was the first of what have become known as “cryptocurencies”.
These are forms of digital money that use encryption to secure transactions and control the creation of new units.
The plan was to make a form of currency not controlled by governments or businesses, that you could trade globally with no cost and without having to reveal your identity.
The popularity of Bitcoin has spawned many copycats – sometimes called “altcoins”.
To make things more confusing, there are also “second generation” virtual currencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash.
Where did Bitcoin come from?
Created by a mysterious developer who uses the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoins exploded on to the financial scene in 2013, following enormous increases in their value.
In the original Bitcoin white paper, Nakamoto describes his creation as a “peer-to-peer version of electronic cash”, allowing “online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution”.
How does Bitcoin work?
Nakamoto wrote that such a currency uses “cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party”.
This sort of stateless, bank-free currency uses a distributed, cryptographically secure “blockchain” to record payment transactions.