Bitcoin has started 2017 with a bang, with its value hitting a three-year high of more than $1,000 £815 .
The nascent digital currency, which has been criticised as a vehicle for a range of nefarious characters from drug dealers to tax evaders to operate, outperformed all of its central bank counterparts with a 125% climb in value in 2016.
Market watchers have suggested that the soaring value may have been boosted in the past year by increased demand in China on the back of a 7% fall in the value of the yuan; this was the Chinese currency s weakest annual performance in more than 20 years.
Data show most bitcoin trading is done in China, according to Reuters.
The currency is used to move money across the globe quickly and anonymously and is free of control from any central bank or government, making it attractive to those who want to get around capital controls.
It is also may appeal to those worried about a shortage of cash, as in India where the prime minister, Narendra Modi, removed high-denomination banknotes from circulation in November.