THE price of bitcoin has rocketed to its highest level since November last year, reaching above £6,613 ($8,600) for the first time this year.
The hike comes as experts debate whether bitcoin has become a form of "digital gold".
Gold is considered a so-called safe haven asset, meaning it's popular among investors during times of economic and political turbulence.
The cryptocurrency has been rising in value at the same time as tensions have escalated between Iran and the US following the killing of general Qasem Soleimani.
A combination of the political events and rising gold prices has led some experts to suggest that bitcoin is the digital version of the metal.
The value of bitcoin hit a high of nearly $20,000 (£15,638) in December 2017.
Since then it's been turbulent, although it surged towards £10,000 in June last year when Facebook revealed plan to launch a cryptocurrency.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin got you baffled? Here's what you really need to know
- Bitcoin is a virtual currency
- It's traded between people without the help of a bank
- Every transaction is recorded in a public ledger, or 'blockchain'
- Bitcoin is created by mining
- Mining involves solving difficult maths problems using computer processors
- Bitcoin can be traded anonymously, which makes it a popular way of funding illegal activities
- A single Bitcoin is worth over £9,700 as of August 7, 2019, but the value fluctuates wildly
- Bitcoin is one of many different cryptocurrencies, but by far the most popular
Sukhi Jutla, blockchain author and co-founder of gold jewellery marketplace MarketOrders, told The Sun that bitcoin "can be" considered digital gold.
This is partially because similar to gold, bitcoin only exists in limited supply, she explained.
She added: "Once these coins have been mined, no more can be produced.
"That means the value of the asset increases when more people want it.
"For example in times of economic uncertainty, the price of gold increases as investors rush to purchase more gold as its seen as a stable holding."
Meanwhile, Iqbal Gandham of online trading platform eToro, told The Independent: "Investment in bitcoin as a potential safe haven investment surged following the US assassination of Qasem Soleimani earlier this month.
"This shows that bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, are increasingly seen by some investors as a hedge in times of geopolitical crises."
Not everyone agrees with the "digital gold" claim though, as other research claims that the value of gold and bitcoin have moved in opposite directions often enough to show that there's no correlation.
Either way, if you currently owe bitcoin, Ms Jutla recommends you to hold on to them as she expects prices to rise even more as businesses start to use the cryptocurrency.
But if you don't yet have any, it could still be a good time to buy.
Ms Jutla said: "I would say it's a bad time to buy when all coins have been minted as the prices will be higher for sure!
"In my opinion it’s still a good bet to buy them now."
In August last year, over 85 per cent of the world's bitcoin had been gobbled up by coin-hungry cryptocurrency miners.
A Brit is claiming to be the mysterious founder of Bitcoin, but says he lost the hard drive containing £1.8billion early coins.
Meanwhile, bitcoin investors are being chased by HMRC for tax on their windfalls.
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