Bitcoin breaks $10,000 mark

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Virtual currency Bitcoin continued its stratospheric rise on Wednesday, breaking  through the $10,000 barrier for the first, a record of over 900 per cent gain in 2017.

The rapid rise has sparked  fears of an imminent bubble.

The virtual currency hit a high of $10,379 in Asia, according to Bloomberg News, more than 10 times higher than its value at the start of the year.

The breakthrough is the latest in a spectacular run for the online money dubbed “digital gold” by its advocates, which began life in 2009 as a bit of encrypted software supposedly written by an unknown coder with a Japanese-sounding name.

Bitcoin, which was valued at just a few US cents when it was launched, has no legal exchange rate, no central bank backing it and is traded on specialist platforms.

But it quickly gained popularity as an alternative to traditional investments, while it has been used to pay for items from a pint in a London pub to a manicure.

The virtual currency has attracted as much anger as praise, however, with the boss of JP Morgan Chase labelling it a fraud and governments, while China and South Korea have expressed concerns.