Investing.com – Bitcoin jumped to a fresh record high on Wednesday amid expectations the digital currency is edging closer to becoming an establish asset class after futures markets regulator CME Group announced plans to launch bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter.
On the U.S.-based Bitfinex exchange, bitcoin rose to $6576.1, up $145.9, or 2.27% after hitting an all-time high of $6619.
“Given increasing client interest in the evolving cryptocurrency markets, we have decided to introduce a bitcoin futures contract,” Terry Duffy, CME Group (NASDAQ:CME) chairman and CEO, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The announcement continued to lift bitcoin to highs on expectations that bitcoin’s foray into the futures market on the CME – the leading global exchange for options and futures contracts – will attract the attention of institutional investors which could see the popular digital currency continue its rally.
The record high in bitcoin comes a few weeks ahead of an upcoming split or fork of the underlying software supporting the bitcoin network as the next iteration of the Segregated Witness update – Segwit2x – is slated to activate.
SegWit2x aims to speed up transactions on the bitcoin network by increasing the size of “blocks” – files that store information on the network – from one megabyte from two megabytes (hence, the 2x).
Bitcoin transactions are limited to 1-megabyte every 10 minutes – or seven transactions per second. This compares to 2,000 per second for Visa and means that at peak times bitcoin transactions can take hours to be fulfilled, inhibiting the currency.
Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrencies by market cap, fell 2.05% to $297.22.