Bitcoin surges by 25% as futures trading begins
Bitcoin's price jumped 25% after it started trading on a major exchange for the first time.
Prices of Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Bitcoin futures contracts expiring in January climbed as high as $18,700 (£14,000) on Monday from their opening level of $15,000 (£11,200).
By mid-morning, prices had fallen back slightly to $16,571 (£12,400), according to cryptocurrency researcher Coindesk.
The move has been seen by some as a step towards legitimising Bitcoin as an investment.
Demand caused outages and delays on CBOE's website, but it said trading had not been disrupted.
"Due to heavy traffic on our website, visitors to www.cboe.com may find that it is performing slower than usual and may at times be temporarily unavailable," the exchange said in a statement.
Futures are a financial product that allow investors to bet on whether the price of something will rise or fall.
The CBOE's competitor exchange, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, will start trading its own futures on 18 December, while Nasdaq is also considering offering Bitcoin futures in early 2018.
The digital currency's value is now up 1,600% in the year to date, beginning the year below $1,000 (£748).
In amazement, market analysts have watched the cryptocurrency's leap from record to record in recent days and continued to ponder whether it is a bubble vulnerable to bursting.
"The one-month contract is trading at around an 11% premium to the underlying Bitcoin, and for me that's a clear indication that there's no connection between the two markets," said Lukas Daalder, chief investment officer at Robeco.
Several online brokerages have not yet allowed trading of the new futures.
"I can understand you don't see that many people who are willing to offer this contract, because you can't hedge your underlying risk if you can't short it," Mr Daalder continued.
"This only adds to the Bitcoin phenomenon. It's interesting to watch, but not a market that I would like to touch."
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The CBOE and CME launches were made possible following approval by the US Commodities and Futures Trading Commission at the start of the month.
However, the regulator warned: "Investors should be aware of the potentially high level of volatility and risk in trading these contracts."