Bitcoin flew past $13,000 on Wednesday afternoon just hours after crossing $12,000, the latest sign of the cryptocurrency's enormous momentum.
Bitcoin is up 1,200% this year, and has been hitting new milestones at a faster and faster pace. Its total market cap is now $225 billion. Bitcoin is being embraced by more established traders, and is set to start trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange on Sunday. "It is on a kind of march to respectability," said investor Bill Miller of Miller Value Partners in a recent interview. Miller owns about $75 million worth of Bitcoin.
"Bitcoin's price increase today is a reflection of the heightened demand for Bitcoin in preparation for the start of futures trading," wrote Trevor Gerszt, CEO of CoinIRA, in an email. "Everyone is racing to try to establish their positions so that they'll be ready to go once Bitcoin futures trading goes live next week.”
There are also signs, however, that Bitcoin remains highly unpredictable, and that it's tricky to even find an established price. On high-volume Korean exchanges like Bithumb, for instance, the price actually soared over $15,000 on Thursday, noted Coindesk.
Coinmarketcap.com, which tracks exchange trading, has the price at $15,228 on Bithumb as of 3:22 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Other exchanges -- even some denominated in dollars -- also showed wide price differences. Traders using arbitrage strategies can profit off this and theoretically narrow the gaps. But price variances and wild moves on the spot markets have raised concerns for some futures traders, because the futures contracts will settle based on prices on the spot markets. Suddenly, Wall Street will be at the whim of people trading their Bitcoin directly on exchanges.