Bitcoin has continued to rush towards the US$50 mark after a major bank and credit card company added their weight behind cryptocurrencies.
The price of bitcoin was up US$48,020.67 over a 24-hour period, having earlier hit an all-time high above $48,500, up more than 60% since the start of the year.
Bank of NY Mellon and Mastercard were the latest to provide a boost to the digital currency.
The Wall Street investment bank said it had formed a new unit to help clients hold, transfer and issue digital assets, offering the same services as is available for traditional financial securities like equities and bonds.
Mellon’s head of digital Roman Regelman said the lender was “the first global bank to announce plans to provide an integrated service for digital assets”, which should be up and running later this year.
“Growing client demand for digital assets, maturity of advanced solutions, and improving regulatory clarity present a tremendous opportunity for us to extend our current service offerings to this emerging field,” he added.
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Mastercard said it will offer more support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year, with card customers currently allowed to pay using their cryptocurrencies though this does not use the company’s network.
"Doing this work will create a lot more possibilities for shoppers and merchants, allowing them to transact in an entirely new form of payment. This change may open merchants up to new customers who are already flocking to digital assets," Mastercard said.
It stressed that not all digital currencies will be supported, saying that many cryptos need to tighten their compliance measures.
Bitcoin’s new records this year have been helped by a large purchase of the currency by Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), which also pledged to allow customers to pay for vehicles in the currency in future, followed similar moves by BlackRock, Square, PayPal and Mode Global last year.