Bitcoin Tops Record $19K, Falls Back Down



The cryptocurrency's gains Thursday morning hit new heights striking well above $18k across widely varying exchanges, coming to rest above $16,000 while the popular Coinbase exchange had been suffering major issues due to "record high traffic".

Bitcoin's rally of more than $3,000 in the past 24 hours continues to defy its legions of skeptics, as mainstream demand for the world's largest cryptocurrency explodes.

The price of bitcoin on Thursday was all over the place, with various exchanges showing significantly different prices - some more than $1,000 apart.

Investors flocking to open new accounts or place orders Thursday left Coinbase, the largest U.S. exchange, warning of outages and slow transactions. "This is a very, very unusual market, that shows we're not in a normal two-way trading market".

The slowdown on exchanges also highlighted the disparate pricing that can occur.

In trading on the Coinbase exchange, the digital currency hit a high of $19,340 after soaring through $12,000 on just Tuesday night. The company had 13.3 million users as of November 26, up from 13 million on November 22 and 10.6 million two months ago. On some exchanges, bitcoin was trading above $19,000 on Thursday. Those warnings were laid out in an open letter via the Futures Industry Association on Wednesday. Chicago-based CBOE Global Markets is planning to launch bitcoin futures on Sunday, while the world's largest futures exchange, CME, is set to launch its futures product the following week.

Cantor Fitzgerald LP's Cantor Exchange is creating a bitcoin derivative, and startup LedgerX already offers options. For example, New York-based Gemini had temporary suspended both bitcoin and ether withdraws this morning since the odds of a transaction actually processing were so low.

Bitcoin may be digital currency, but why would anyone spend it?