Bitcoin rocketed above $19,000 for the first time on Thursday before falling sharply from its record high.
In trading on the Coinbase exchange, the digital currency hit a high of $19,340 before falling more than 20 percent from that level to $15,198.63. At 4:08 p.m. New York time, the cryptocurrency traded at $16,362.99. The price on Coinbase is often at a premium over other exchanges. Coinbase is one of the major cryptocurrency exchanges accounting for a third of bitcoin trading volume.
Bitcoin 1-day chart
"It goes without saying that prices have reached a level where sentiment is exhibiting short-term euphoria," said Mark Newton, managing member at Newton Advisors, in a note to clients. "But to think prices are at mania levels where this could suffer a serious crash here… is a bit ridiculous."
"I truly don't think people are involved on a mass scale yet. We've heard the fraud claims. Now we need people profiting immensely all around us and making forecasts for $1 million, etc., for it to truly have reached a euphoric peak," Newton said.
Despite its wild ride, bitcoin now has a market value of more than $270 billion, meaning it would rank among the 20 largest stocks in the .
The latest swing higher came as bitcoin topped $12,000 Tuesday night in a rapid recovery from a 20 percent drop last week.
Between 5 and 6 a.m. New York time Wednesday, bitcoin jumped past $15,000, and the day's wild ride began.
Source of chart: CoinDesk
The digital currency began the year below $1,000 and its gains have accelerated as investor interest grows. Chicago-based is planning to launch bitcoin futures on Sunday, while the world's largest futures exchange, , is set to launch its futures product the following week. The addition of bitcoin futures by two respected exchanges marks another step towards establishing the digital currency as a legitimate asset class.
"While we launched [in the U.S.] just a week ago, bitFlyer has already seen strong interest from institutions looking to gain exposure to bitcoin. We're glad to have expanded to the US at this time with so much interest due to the impending Bitcoin futures launches," bitFlyer COO Bartek Ringwelski, said in an email. The Tokyo-based digital currency exchange is the largest in the world by trading volume and announced last week it received a "BitLicense" to operate in New York.
However, many remain critical of bitcoin. JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon has called bitcoin a "fraud." Digital currency investor and former Fortress hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz also said last week that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are Novogratz also predicted last week that bitcoin could reach $40,000 by the end of next year.