Bitcoin bounces back over $10,000 amid coronavirus concerns

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Investors seek safe haven because of fears over the economic impact of outbreak

Bitcoin has bounced back above $10,000 (£7,731), fuelled by investors seeking a safe haven amid fears over the economic impact of the coronavirus.

On Sunday, bitcoin rose above $10,000 for the first time since September and by Wednesday was trading at $10,335 on the Luxembourg-based bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp. It marks a significant shift in fortunes for the 10-year-old cryptocurrency, which hit a low of $3,196 in December 2018.

Bitcoin is the first, and the biggest, ‘cryptocurrency’ – a decentralised tradeable digital asset. The lack of any central authority makes bitcoin remarkably resilient to censorship, corruption – or regulation. That means it has attracted a range of backers, from libertarian monetarists who enjoy the idea of a currency with no inflation and no central bank, to drug dealers who like the fact that it is hard (but not impossible) to trace a bitcoin transaction back to a physical person. The exchange rate has been volatile, making it a risky investment. Whether it is a bad investment is yet to be seen. In practice it has been far more important for the dark economy than it has for most legitimate uses, but with Facebook’s announcement that it is launching a new digital currency – Libra – mainstream interest in bitcoin has surged.

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