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Bitcoin value rises over $1 billion as Japan, Russia move to legitimize cryptocurrency

by Arjun Kharpal, CNBC:

Bitcoin is up nearly $100 in the past week, hitting levels not seen since mid-March after Japan legalized the cryptocurrency as a payment method and Russia is seeking to regulate it too.

The digital currency was trading at around $1,223.04 at the time of publication, up from highs of $1,124.88 on April 5, and hitting prices not seen since March 16, according to Coindesk data. Bitcoin’s market capitalization has risen from $18.34 billion on April 5, to $19.5 billion on Wednesday, according to Coinmarketcap.com data.

Bitcoin has suffered a recent dip in price thanks to a debate over thefuture of its underlying technology, but the recent support appears to have come from Japan.

Bitcoin is up nearly $100 in the past week, hitting levels not seen since mid-March after Japan legalized the cryptocurrency as a payment method and Russia is seeking to regulate it too.

The digital currency was trading at around $1,223.04 at the time of publication, up from highs of $1,124.88 on April 5, and hitting prices not seen since March 16, according to Coindesk data. Bitcoin’s market capitalization has risen from $18.34 billion on April 5, to $19.5 billion on Wednesday, according to Coinmarketcap.com data.

Bitcoin has suffered a recent dip in price thanks to a debate over thefuture of its underlying technology, but the recent support appears to have come from Japan.

Earlier this month, Japan began accepting bitcoin as legal currency with major retailers backing the new law. Consumer electronics retailing giant Bic Camera began accepting bitcoin last week.

Bitcoin trading in Japanese yen is the second-most liquid market globally, according to data compiled by cryptocurrency trading platform Gatecoin.

“The Japan virtual currency act has likely had a major impact, as there has been a lot of buzz in Japanese media over the ruling over the last few months,” Aurélien Menant, founder and CEO of Gatecoin, told CNBC by email.

A bitcoin token stands next to a collection of U.S. one dollar bills in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A bitcoin token stands next to a collection of U.S. one dollar bills in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

At the same time, Russia, one of the strongest opponents of bitcoin is seeking to regulate the digital currency. Russian Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev told Bloomberg in an interview this week that the authorities hope to recognize bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a legal financial instrument in 2018 in a bid to tackle money laundering.

“The state needs to know who at every moment of time stands on both sides of the financial chain,” Moiseev told Bloomberg.

“If there’s a transaction, the people who facilitate it should understand from whom they bought and to whom they were selling, just like with bank operations.”

Increasing state regulation around bitcoin could make the cryptocurrency an attractive investment for investors who previously shied away from it due to the high risk and price swings.

Read More @ CNBC.com

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