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Bitcoin hits new record, set for biggest monthly gain since 2019

This photograph taken on December 17, 2020 shows shows a physical imitation of a Bitcoin at a crypto currency Premium
This photograph taken on December 17, 2020 shows shows a physical imitation of a Bitcoin at a crypto currency "Bitcoin Change" shop, near Grand Bazaar, in Istanbul. - Leading virtual currency bitcoin on 16 December traded above $20,000 for the first time following a sustained run higher in recent weeks. Bitcoin reached a record-high $20,398.50 before pulling back to $20,145, which was still an intra-day gain of nearly four percent. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP) (AFP)

The digital asset surged above $28,000 Wednesday to a record high, adding to its 47% rally so far in December

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, is on track to close out a banner year with another bang.

The digital asset surged above $28,000 Wednesday to a record high, adding to its 47% rally so far in December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bitcoin rose as much as 6.2% to $28,572.10 in Asia trading and is on track for its biggest monthly gain since May 2019.

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Bitcoin has almost quadrupled in value this year amid the global coronavirus pandemic, while the wider Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index tracking the largest digital currencies is up about 270% as rival coins such as Ether have also rallied.

The latest price surge continues to divide opinion between those who view cryptocurrencies as a hedge against dollar weakness and inflation risk, and others who question Bitcoin’s validity as an asset class given its speculative nature and boom-and-bust cycles.

“While a growing institutional presence has been part of the narrative of the current bull run, we may see increased retail interest in Bitcoin as a form of digital gold," Paolo Ardoino, chief technology officer of crypto exchange Bitfinex said in an email.

Regulatory concerns also remain a wider factor for crypto investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission this month accused Ripple Labs Inc. and its top executives of misleading investors in affiliated token XRP. While Ripple plans to challenge the accusation in the courts, the development underscores the prospect of stricter oversight of digital assets.

XRP has plummeted almost 70% this month and faces further pressure with Coinbase the latest exchange to announce plans to suspend trading in the token.

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