UPDATE (16th October 13:48 BST): Comment added from BTCC CEO Bobby Lee.
Bitcoin broke the $260 mark this morning, hitting its highest price in two months.
By 9:53am (UTC), the digital currency had reached $260 – the first time since 16th August. It has since been dipping back into the $259 range.
This week has seen a sudden surge in bitcoin trading volume, driven predominantly by the Chinese exchanges Huobi and OKCoin.
On Wednesday, 1.29m BTC was traded in total – the highest amount since 26th January. OKCoin accounted for 48% of this volume.
Bobby Lee, CEO of Chinese exchange BTCC, told CoinDesk his platform has seen a significant volume increase, though he dismissed much of his competitors’ volume as “artificial”.
Those behind the volume, he said, are not traders but consumers sucked into a Russian ponzi scheme, MMM.
“We have posted warnings on our site and on our social media to warn users to be careful, but they have been coming to our exchange and buying out like crazy,” he said, adding:
“This time it’s not speculative trading but based on them getting sucked into this ecosystem.”
Arthur Hayes, co-founder of bitcoin derivatives exchange BitMEX, had a different theory. He told CoinDesk that rumours of China further devaluing the yuan are fuelling interest in bitcoin, and the current rally:
“Individuals who see the writing on the wall are beginning to use bitcoin as a means of wealth preservation. As a result, the premium for bitcoin in China is rising, and the effective means to arbitrage the difference onshore and offshore has closed. This is fuelling the rally we are seeing. Just today the premium touched a new local high of 3%.”