But the future viability of bitcoin continues to divide opinion. What more can be said about the idea of free money that functions independently of governments, central banks and credit institutions??
Warnings of a speculative bubble do not rub off. "You might as well bet on any pennystock, because even bitcoins have no chance of ever becoming an extensively used currency," commerzbank writes to its customers.
Such prophecies of doom have accompanied the bitcoin rally from the beginning – but so far it has not been possible to stop it. After each crash, it didn't take long for the share price to recover and start flying high again.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt: it is still mainly gamblers who are driving bitcoin upwards. For its function as a means of payment, the unpredictable exchange rate development is not necessary. It is now possible to pay for everything on the internet with bitcoins, from a vacation home in mallorca to a notebook.
But does that justify the exorbitant price increase from 13 to more than 1000 dollars over the year? According to experts, the reasons for the breathtaking development lie more in the desperate search for profitable investments and distrust of the financial system, which is dependent on cheap money.
In crisis countries such as argentina, cyprus, greece and spain, people are looking for alternatives to established currencies, notes analyst ali farid khwaja of berenberg bank. "This suggests that bitcoins, like gold, could become a store of value during crises, hyperinflation, or excessive money printing."
Savers currently have many reasons to fear for their money: central banks are keeping interest rates as low as never before and are even thinking aloud about penal charges on bank deposits. The international monetary fund (IMF) has recently published a study that raises the idea of a compulsory levy on coarse assets.
But whether the savings are safely invested in bitcoins of all things? As soon as a few rough actors sell, the market could get nervous. "If you want to watch a bubble burst, keep a close eye on bitcoin," warns commerzbank analyst Lutz Karpowitz.