One bitcoin is now worth more than $5,100, a record high

Image: Reuters/Brendan McDermid
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Bitcoin is now trading above $5,100, marking a new record high for the digital currency. This beat its previous high of just over $5,000 set on Sept. 1.

As ever, the reasons for the rally remain opaque. What is clear is that a shutdown of bitcoin exchanges by the Chinese government in September only momentarily slowed the price rally. Trading volume in China has plunged to about 1.6% of the global market, according to Crypto Compare, a data provider.

But Japan has picked up China’s slack. In contrast to China, the Japanese regulator has issued licenses to 11 bitcoin exchanges operating there. Trading in Japanese yen is now the biggest single currency pair by volume, representing 58% of the market. The Bitflyer exchange based in Tokyo conducts about three-quarters of the yen trading volume.

Bitcoin trading has decisively shifted away from China. The US dollar trade takes up about 27% of the market by volume, followed by another new major currency in the bitcoin markets, the Korean won, which represents 7% of the market by volume.

Just two months ago, a price call of $5,000 bitcoin by years’ end was considered bullish. Now the analyst who made that call, Ronnie Moas of Standpoint Research, says his new target is $7,500 by the time 2017 is up. With bitcoin’s unpredictable price swings, Moas might just be proven right again.