Bitcoin buyers have been issued a "serious warning" from one of Britain's leading financial regulators.
Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), told BBC's "Newsnight" on Thursday, "If you want to invest in bitcoin, be prepared to lose all your money."
Bailey said a lack of backing from governments and central banks for the world's most popular digital currency was evidence that putting money into bictoin was not a secure investment. He also said buying bitcoin was akin to gambling because it had the same level of risk.
Bitcoin's meteoric price rise has stunned critics and enthusiasts alike, leaving investors scrambling to understand the driving factors for the digital currency's runaway rally.
Bitcoin traded at $17,159 on Friday morning, according to CoinDesk's bitcoin price index. The digital currency has a market value of approximately $291 billion — the largest among the cryptocurrencies. A year ago, one bitcoin was worth around $780.
"If you look at what has happened this year, I would caution people … We know relatively little about what informs the price of bitcoin," Bailey told the BBC.