A bitcoin sign is seen during Riga Comm 2017, a business technology and innovation fair in Riga, Latvia, on Nov 9, 2017. (Reuters photo)

SYDNEY/MOSCOW: Bitcoin’s relentless and volatile rally shows no sign of abating, with the world’s largest cryptocurrency defying growing bubble fears to hit yet another milestone.

Bitcoin rose as much as 6.7% to a record $8,224 as of 9.27am in New York. It’s been a tumultuous year for the virtual currency, with three separate slumps of more than 25% all giving way to subsequent rallies.

“The inflation in this thing is massive,” Luke Hickmore, a senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments in London, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “When will it collapse? Who knows. It will cause a lot of pain.”

Even as many sceptics call the asset a bubble waiting to pop, it’s becoming too big for many on Wall Street to ignore. CME Group Inc, the world’s biggest exchange, will start offering futures trading on bitcoin next month, while senior executives at Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Citigroup Inc have said they are researching cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that underlies them.

Recent volatility has stemmed from a pickup in people switching to alternative virtual currencies, notably bitcoin cash. That’s gaining popularity due to lower transaction costs and faster speed. New cryptocurrency iterations are springing up as disagreements over bitcoin’s design persist and opportunities for making a quick buck prove hard to pass up.

Bitcoin cash dropped 0.6% on Monday to trade at $1,184, down from a high of $1, 388 on Nov 12, Coinmarketcap prices show. Bitcoin has advanced more than 700% this year and now boasts a market value of more than $130 billion.

“I find it remarkable and somewhat frightening how, no matter how much bitcoin is pummelled by sellers, it simply bounces back even stronger,” said Lukman Otunuga, an analyst at currency brokerage ForexTime Ltd. “Will bitcoin hit $10,000 before year end? This is the question every investor is asking.”

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