For comparison, gold is down about 5 percent on the year, and slightly negative on the month.
Some have attributed the size of the recent jump to investors’ fear of missing out (FOMO), while others such as “Fast Money” trader Brian Kelly point to ecosystem headlines like the Winklevoss twins launching their exchange and the Digital Currency Group announcing funding from Bain and MasterCard.
But bitcoin has boasted a steady parade of media highlights and major investments from important financial firms all year, so it’s not immediately obvious why this past month would mark a turning point.
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Brendan O’Connor, the CEO of bitcoin trading firm Genesis Global Trading, told CNBC he has no easy answers about the price jump. Although he said rumors were flying around the community about international rings of traders teaming up to drive up the exchange rate, O’Connor was unable to confirm anything he’d heard.
For its part, Genesis Global is experiencing a “dramatic increase in activity” from renewed interest in bitcoin as a tradable asset, O’Connor said.
“When the price starts going up, people start coming out of the woodwork,” he said. “We’re setting new records almost on a daily basis for amount traded and number of transactions.”
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It should be noted that bitcoin is a relatively illiquid market, so its exchange rate against major world currencies has been historically volatile. Still, O’Connor said volume from the Chinese bitcoin market has been “off the charts,” so there may be a genuine upswing in interest from that region.
In fact, Kelly suggested in a Tuesday note that Beijing’s tightening of capital controls may have spurred some of the recent price gains.
Additionally, many in the bitcoin community insist that the daily price of the cryptocurrency is not a relevant metric, as it distracts from the world-changing potential of the technology.
Others worry that the cycle of mainstream media coverage on bitcoin’s price will recreate a story they’ve seen before: