Bitcoin’s price climbed above $15,000 on Thursday, hitting a level not seen since January 2018 amid U.S. presidential election uncertainty.
The world’s best-known cryptocurrency was last trading almost 9% higher at a price of $15,233, according to data from industry website CoinDesk.
Bitcoin has been on a tear in 2020, more than doubling in value year-to-date. Its meteoric rise comes on the back of unprecedented stimulus from global governments and central banks during the coronavirus pandemic, which some industry insiders believe has made the virtual currency more attractive than fiat currencies like the dollar.
“Bitcoin’s creation was in part due to fears that increased fiscal stimulus is devaluing currencies globally,” said Simon Peters, a cryptoasset analyst at investment platform eToro. “As a result, when central banks announce extensive plans to pump money into economies, many investors in the crypto community take this as a major bitcoin buy signal.”
Investors are awaiting the latest monetary policy announcement from the Federal Reserve, with the U.S. central bank expected to keep overnight rates close to zero and reiterate the need for more fiscal stimulus.
But lingering uncertainty over the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election means that it’s unlikely another coronavirus stimulus package will be agreed upon in the near term.
“With the U.S. election gradually drawing to a close, the details of a fiscal stimulus could become clearer. Any such package could see weakening of the U.S. dollar and further increases in the bitcoin price going forward,” Peters said.
PayPal said it would let its customers buy and sell digital assets like bitcoin and ether through its digital wallet and eventually use them for shopping, while Facebook is developing its libra digital currency with a Switzerland-based consortium called the Libra Association.
Still, regulators continue to scrutinize the cryptocurrency industry. Bitcoin’s network doesn’t require a central authority to maintain it, and officials have expressed concern with its use in illicit transactions. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice said it had seized $1 billion worth of bitcoin believed to be linked to Silk Road, the now-defunct online black market.