In just four hours of early Saturday trading, the price of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin surged over 9% to a new record. At the time of this writing, one Bitcoin is valued at $3,169.90, well above the previous record of $3,000 set in June.
Bitcoin's total market value is now more that $52 billion, according to data from CoinMarketCap, and the return on Bitcoin investments made on January 1st of this year stands at nearly 220%.
Bitcoin will almost certainly remain a highly volatile asset, but its latest high reflects a major positive development. After years of heated debate over how to increase the Bitcoin network’s transaction capacity, major players have finally agreed on a compromise solution known as Segwit2x. That accomplishment is reassuring for those who may have begun to doubt the effectiveness of Bitcoin’s leaderless governance model.
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The Segwit2x solution also seems to have driven Bitcoin's price higher in a less direct way. On Tuesday, a faction who disagreed with the proposal spun off a so-called ‘fork’ of Bitcoin, known as Bitcoin Cash, which implemented a different fix. All holders of Bitcoin received matching Bitcoin Cash, which now trades as BCH on exchanges, and has a total current value of $3.75 billion.
However, the price of Bitcoin Cash has declined steadily over the last two days as Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies have surged. That suggests investors are cashing out of the upstart fork, which has sparse support from miners and exchanges, and pumping their gains back into older, more trusted, and more widely-adopted cryptocurrencies.