Bitcoin just hit another milestone in its impressive 2020 run. The cryptocurrency surged 9% to a new all-time high of about $19,860 on Monday, topping the previous peak of $19,783 from December 2017.
It's been a wild year for bitcoin, which has soared more than 175% since the end of 2019. Prices plunged below $4,000 in March as markets around the globe plummeted due to the Covid
-19 economic crisis.
But bitcoin has rallied sharply in the past few months as the dollar has weakened. Crucially, the cryptocurrency has also skyrocketed into the mainstream.
Payments giants Square (SQ) and PayPal (PYPL) both now allow their customers to buy and sell bitcoin. Money management giant Fidelity is launching a bitcoin fund for wealthy investors. Bitcoin futures contracts are even trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Prominent investment managers Paul Tudor Jones, Stanley Druckenmiller and Mike Novogratz are bullish on bitcoin as well.
In other words, the days of bitcoin being considered just a fringe investment are over. The cryptocurrency has gone legit.
"This rally is driven by smart and institutional money and not built solely on retail over-speculation," said Guy Hirsch, managing director for the US at eToro, brokerage and trading firm, in an e-mail to CNN Business. "So many more individuals and asset managers are now buying in."
The amount of bitcoin currently in circulation is now worth more than $365 billion.
Bitcoin also got a recent boost after a top strategist at BlackRock (BLK), the world's largest asset management firm, suggested that bitcoin could one day replace gold as a safe-haven currency of choice.
The epic rise in bitcoin has also fueled even more dramatic spikes in smaller cryptocurrencies such as ethereum, XRP, litecoin and Stellar as of late. That may continue.
"Bitcoin hitting a new all-time high...will likely spur a tidal wave of retail investment that pushes bitcoin much higher in short order," said Denis Vinokourov, head of research at digital assets prime broker Bequant, in an e-mail to CNN Business.
"However, it is unlikely that this inflow will be limited to bitcoin only," he added. "The ease of access to other assets is much more straightforward than what it was during the last bull run."