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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Representations of virtual currency Bitcoin are seen in this picture illustration

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LONDON (Reuters) – smashed through $20,000 for the first time on Wednesday, its highest ever.

The cryptocurrency jumped 4.5% to move as high as $20,440. It has gained more than 170% this year, buoyed by demand from larger investors attracted to its potential for quick gains, purported resistance to inflation and expectations it will become a mainstream payment method.

Bitcoin’s blistering rally has seen a massive flow of coin to North America from East Asia, fuelled by hunger for bitcoin among bigger and compliance-wary U.S. investors.

The rally in bitcoin, which some investors have seen as a potential safe-haven, has coincided with ‘s drop in recent months.

Some investors such as hedge funds and family offices have in the past been deterred by the opaque nature of the crypto market. Tightening oversight of the American crypto industry has helped soothe some of those concerns.

For graphic of Bitcoin 20,000: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/buzz/ygdvzjkrdvw/Pasted%20image%201608126803732.png

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