(Adds background, updates prices)
NEW YORK, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Virtual currency bitcoin soared to an all-time high above $10,000 on Tuesday on some smaller exchanges and digital currency indexes, but remained just below that milestone in major trading platforms such as Luxembourg-based BitStamp.
Created in 2009, bitcoin uses encryption and a blockchain database that enables the fast and anonymous transfer of funds outside of a traditional centralized payment system.
It has soared more than 900 percent so far this year, posting the largest gain of all asset classes, amid increased institutional demand for crypto-currencies as financial and mainstream use has expanded.
On the CEX.IO exchange, bitcoin hit $10,234. On crypto-currency index coinmarketcap.com, it touched $10,050.
On BitStamp, it hit a high of $9,968 and last traded up 1.7 percent on the day at $9,876.99.
Neither did it reach $10,000 on Coinbase's digital asset U.S.-based exchange GDAX, or on Gemini Exchange, owned and operated by virtual currency entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
"With bitcoin nearing $10,000, long-time bitcoiners finally feel vindicated that their currency that has been ridiculed for years, is at last being taken seriously," said Sol Lederer, blockchain director at U.S. technology company LOOMIA.
"Bitcoin's future is still uncertain; it faces the same serious technical challenges it has for years and faces stiff competition from newer, more sophisticated blockchains. But even if it were to crash, it's apparent that bitcoin is here to stay."
In some emerging markets, bitcoin has hit well over $10,000. In Zimbabwe, bitcoin traded at $17,875 on Monday. Tuesday's price in Zimbabwe was not available.
In South Korean exchanges, bitcoin was already close to $11,000 or higher. It traded at nearly $11,000 on Tuesday on bithumb after hitting the $10,000 milestone on Monday. At Coinone, bitcoin traded at more than $11,700, and at $11,734 on Korbit.
Bitcoin has been boosted as exchanges such as the CME Group Inc and the Chicago Board Options Exchange announced plans to launch futures contracts for the currency.
Mike Novogratz, a former macro hedge fund manager at Fortress Investment Group, said in a Reuters Investment Summit earlier this month that mainstream institutional investors were about six to eight months from adopting bitcoin. (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)