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Cryptocurrency market value tops $1 trillion as Bitcoin surges

The value of the cryptocurrency market topped $1 trillion for the first time Thursday as Bitcoin surged to yet another record high.

The world’s biggest digital coin briefly climbed past the $40,000 mark to a peak of $40,324.01 Thursday afternoon, a more than 14 percent gain from a day earlier, CoinDesk data show.

The jump helped drive the combined market value of all cryptocurrencies up about 9 percent to $1.05 trillion, according to CoinMarketCap.com, which tracks hundreds of digital tokens.

Bitcoin alone accounts for the vast majority of that total with a market capitalization of about $723 billion, the site says. It was recently trading at $37,851.27.

Smaller coins also saw gains Thursday — Etherium, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value, was recently up about 2 percent at $1,217.45, while XRP surged more than 20 percent to about 30 cents, according to CoinDesk.

Once a fascination of amateur retail traders, Bitcoin has been on a record-breaking tear in recent months as it gained traction among institutional investors, roughly doubling its value in less than a month.

The cryptocurrency has been buoyed by perceptions that it’s a good way to protect against inflation. JPMorgan Chase analysts have said Bitcoin could even become an alternative to gold — which could eventually drive its price up to $146,000.

There are also hopes that Bitcoin will become a more widely used payment method, with mainstream digital payments firms such as PayPal and Square allowing Bitcoin on their platforms.

Square bought $50 million worth of Bitcoin in October, and CEO Jack Dorsey — who also leads Twitter — published an open letter this week slamming a federal proposal that would force the company to more carefully track cryptocurrency transactions.

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