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The catalyst behind bitcoin’s meteoric rise past $10,000

Jeff WilliamsJeff Williams ·

What’s going on: Bitcoin prices have gone berserk, with the hot cryptocurrency rising above $9,000 per coin for the first time on Thanksgiving weekend, crossing $10,000 on Tuesday and now closing in on $11,000 just a day later.

One catalyst that started the current rally — when it gained $1,000 in two days and broke $9,000 — was a spike in the userbase of U.S. cryptocurrency platform, Coinbase.

The catalyst: Coinbase, the largest U.S. Bitcoin exchange, added around 100K accounts during the Thanksgiving weekend, growing its user base to 13.1 million as of Black Friday. The move apparently was driven by retail traders, and the increased number of users could mean stronger demand for the cryptocurrency.

Apparently, families weren’t talking turkey over the Thanksgiving table as much as they were chatting about bitcoin or other altcoins for the holidays.

The result: Bitcoin has gained roughly 70 percent this month, and is up some 900 percent in 2017. I haven’t updated the chart above from the holiday weekend because the latest gain — and if bitcoin crosses $11,000 today it will be the fastest it has gained $1,000 yet — just makes the chart look too wild. That said, it does make you wonder whether there could be a blow-off here at some point.

What now? While bitcoin has its critics — most notably Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase — and while there are cautionary stories like this one from Mark Hulbert of Hulbert Financial Digest suggesting that there’s an 80 percent chance of a bitcoin crash ahead, there is the potential for a continued influx of new users and adoptees, due to the CME’s planned listing of bitcoin futures in December. If the CME is able to go through with its plan, traders and investors might start opening up bitcoin accounts; that’s a milestone that will likely accelerate bitcoin movement, even at a time when anything faster than what we have seen in the last week seems impossible.

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Jeff Williams is the lead trader of PennyPro.com. He is a short-term trader of stocks under $10 a share, who has been watching bitcoin and trading stocks related to the cryptocurrency.

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