It seems unreal, but it’s true: The price of digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin has just hit $10,000.
The all-time-high milestone comes after a period of ultra-fast growth, in which the price of Bitcoin rose from about $3,000 to $10,000 in less than three months. And on Jan. 1, 2017, the price was around $1,000, according to CoinMarketCap, meaning Bitcoin is up a neat 1,000% this year.
Besides being a big psychological barrier, the price of $10,000 carries no specific meaning for Bitcoin, whose recent growth doesn’t appear to be spurred by any sensible metric. Instead, the cancellation of a controversial hard fork in November, increased interest from the public, and institutional investors joining the fray appear to have fueled the stellar price rise.
And it’s not only Bitcoin that’s growing. The market cap of all cryptocurrencies combined crossed the $300 billion threshold on Monday, with all 10 largest cryptocurrencies rising in value significantly. The second-largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum, now has a market cap larger than $45 billion while the third in line, a fork of Bitcoin called Bitcoin Cash, has a market cap over $26 billion.
Despite the market’s exuberance, not all is well with Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency isn’t keeping up with the times; the network is slow and congested, causing transaction fees to fly through the roof and making Bitcoin mostly unusable for payments, which was the original intention of its elusive creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
Throughout the year, experts pointed out that squabbles between Bitcoin’s core developers with a large group of businesses, exchanges, and miners on the platform are bad for the cryptocurrency. All parties agree that Bitcoin should be upgraded, but they never agreed as to how and when; the highly contested Segwit2x fork was a possible solution but due to lack of consensus it was canceled days before launch.
As is, Bitcoin is currently primarily viewed as a store of value, akin to a digital gold, and this seems to be more than enough to drive the price up.