The seemingly unstoppable rise of Bitcoin continued Tuesday with the cost of a single unit of the digital currency rising above $50,000 for the first time. The price of Bitcoin has risen almost 200% in the past three months, and its volatility was on display Tuesday. After rising above $50,600, it fell back to $48,674 at 2:15 pm ET, the AP reports. At that price, with about 18.6 million Bitcoins in circulation, Bitcoin has a market value of nearly $907 billion. Bitcoin is rallying as more companies signal the digital currency could eventually gain widespread acceptance as a means of payment. The vast majority of those who have acquired Bitcoin have treated it as a commodity, like gold, with few places accepting it in exchange for goods or services. Companies have been leery because of Bitcoin’s volatility and its use by parties who want to avoid the traditional banking system.
The cryptocurrency allows people using it for purchases to remain anonymous. It remains less popular than credit cards or cash. Last week, however, Tesla sent a tremor through digital currency markets, saying that it was buying $1.5 billion in Bitcoin as part of an investment strategy, and that it would soon be accepting Bitcoin as payment for its cars. The next day, BNY Mellon, the oldest bank in the US, said it will include digital currencies in the services it provides to clients. Mastercard said it would start supporting "select crypto currencies" on its network. And Blue Ridge Bank of Charlottesville, Virginia, said it would allow cardholders to purchase and redeem Bitcoin at 19 ATMs. A Duke University expert still doesn't expect wide acceptance soon. "If you were a merchant, why would you accept payment in an asset that could be worth 20% less a day after you receive it?" he said.
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