Bitcoin just passed $12,000 for the first time

Bitcoin can’t stop breaking records right now.

The virtual currency leaped above $12,000 for the first time on Wednesday, taking its spectacular gains since the start of this year to over 1,100%.

Bitcoin has crashed through a series of milestones in recent weeks despite warnings of a potential bubble. After starting the year below $1,000, it hit $8,000 for the first time in early November and topped $11,000 just last week.

Much of the digital currency’s stunning ascent has been driven by the expectation that big, professional investors are set to start trading it. It’s also been propelled by mom and pop investors who don’t want to miss out on its meteoric rise.

People are bidding its price higher even though leading figures in finance and economics are telling them to beware.

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz said last week that bitcoin “ought to be outlawed.” Criticism has also come from the likes of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon and legendary investor Warren Buffett.

But some financial institutions are helping to bring bitcoin more into the mainstream.

Starting next week, investors will be able to trade bitcoin futures via the Chicago Board Options Exchange, which is expected to increase interest from hedge funds and big asset managers.

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