Bitcoin soars past $15,000, just hours after crossing $14,000

Bitcoin rocketed higher Thursday, crossing the $15,000 mark just 10 hours after topping $14,000.

Bitcoin (Exchange: BTC=) rocketed higher Thursday, crossing the $15,000 mark just 10 hours after topping $14,000.

The landmark happened on the Coinbase exchange at 10 a.m. London time on Thursday, and it traded as high as $15,200 on that platform.

That said, there are often significant price differentials on different bitcoin exchanges. CoinDesk, a widely regarded industry site, still showed the cryptocurrency below the $15,000 level, according to its average of prices across leading exchanges.

Bitcoin now has a market value of more than $256 billion, meaning it would rank among the 20 largest stocks in the S&P 500 .

The latest swing higher came as bitcoin topped $12,000 Tuesday night in a rapid recovery from a 20 percent drop last week.

The digital currency began the year below $1,000 and its gains have accelerated as investor interest grows. Chicago-based Cboe Global Markets is planning to launch bitcoin futures on Sunday, while the world's largest futures exchange, CME , is set to launch its futures product the following week. The addition of bitcoin futures by two respected exchanges marks another step towards establishing the digital currency as a legitimate asset class.

"While we launched [in the U.S.] just a week ago, bitFlyer has already seen strong interest from institutions looking to gain exposure to bitcoin. We're glad to have expanded to the US at this time with so much interest due to the impending Bitcoin futures launches," bitFlyer COO Bartek Ringwelski, said in an email. The Tokyo-based digital currency exchange is the largest in the world by trading volume and announced last week it received a "BitLicense" to operate in New York.

However, many remain critical of bitcoin. JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon has called bitcoin a "fraud." Digital currency investor and former Fortress hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz also said last week that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are "going to be the biggest bubble of our lifetimes." Novogratz also predicted last week that bitcoin could reach $40,000 by the end of next year.

Bitcoin three-month performance

Source: CoinDesk

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