Bitcoin Soars Above $600: Rises 20% In One Day Ahead Of Senate Hearing

While the relentless multiple expansion (if not so much earnings growth and certainly not revenue contraction) looks set to push all three main stock indices over the key psychological levels of 16000, 1800 and 4000, with the all time bubble high on the Nasdaq increasingly looking like the next big target, the stock market mania has nothing on Bitcoin, which only yesterday crossed $500 for the first time ever, and as of this morning is already 20% higher, having just crossed $600 minutes ago. Which means that anything prices in Bitcoin has entered bear market in just the past day. How high BTC goes, is nobody's guess (Raoul Pal had a truly stunning price target): once the buying frenzy kicks in, step aside, especially since China is increasingly looking like it may be jumping on board the latest mania.

So is there any catalyst that has driven a more than  100% increase in the USD value of the currency in November alone? As previously noted, one event that may be promoting much broader acceptance in China is that the currency is now accepted for payment for real estate:

Bitcoin acceptance in China has now extended into real estate with a residential developer in Zhangjiang Hi-Tech park in Shanghai finding a new way to promote sales through the acceptance of Bitcoin virtual currency.

 

Shanda Group, one of the large IT giants in China, through its real estate development arm, opened sales of its first real estate investment project on October 25th, 2013. 300 apartments in the soon to be built buildings ranging from 42-81sqm were available for sale and sold out in a few minutes as demand far outstripped supply.

 

As part of the promotion, Shanda accepted Bitcoins for payment. Although the exchange rate was ‘fixed’ at 1,000 Chinese Yuan (CNY) to one Bitcoin and the developer reserved the right to adjust the rate, the deal represents one of the first times that Bitcoin could be used for such a large scale 'public' purchase. The exchange rate was about 1,200 CNY : 1 Bitcoin on BTCChina that day, so the developer was obviously trying to hedge a bit in case Bitcoin fell through, but considering the rate is rapidly reaching nearly 2,000 CNY : 1 Bitcoin, it would have been a great deal for the developer – Bitcoin is one of the few investments in China that has been increasing faster than real estate in 2013.

The rate now is much higher. However, as reported over a week ago, that may change depending on what comes out of the Senatorial hearing on Bitcoin sheculed for later today:

The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are telling a U.S. Senate committee that Bitcoins are legitimate financial instruments, boosting prospects for wider acceptance of the virtual currency.

 

Representatives from the agencies told the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ahead of a hearing today that the digital money offers benefits and carries risks, like any other online-payment system, according to letters they released before the meeting.

 

The committee scheduled the hearing “to explore potential promises and risks related to virtual currency for the federal government and society at large” after the Silk Road Hidden Website was shut down in October. The closing of the marketplace, where people could obtain drugs, guns and other illicit goods using Bitcoins, is helping fuel a rally in the virtual currency as speculators bet that the digital money will gain more mainstream acceptance.

 

“The FBI’s approach to virtual currencies is guided by a recognition that online payment systems, both centralized and decentralized, offer legitimate financial services,” Peter Kadzik, principal deputy assistant attorney general, wrote in a letter yesterday. “Like any financial service, virtual currency system of either type can be exploited by malicious actors, but centralized and decentralized online payment systems can vary significantly in the types and degrees of illicit financial risk they pose.”

Tune in at 3pm when we will carry the Bitcoin hearing live.