When the price of a commodity or a stock rises, you can usually point to some sort of reason. When Apple has a good quarter, its stock price generally goes up. When catastrophe strikes, uncertainty in global markets typically increases demand for what are viewed as safer investments such as gold, propelling prices upward.
But in the world of Bitcoin, the digital cryptocurrency that doubles as a decentralized payment system, you've got a lot less to go on.
A lot of the recent Bitcoin news wasn't good. In April, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission declined a bid by the Winklevoss brothers to get their Bitcoin ETF listed on the Bats BZX exchange. The move would have made it far easier for the average investor to speculate on the future of Bitcoin.
And over the last couple of years, the Bitcoin community has been bitterly divided over a question on whether the size of blocks on the cryptocurrency's blockchain — the fundamental technology upon which the Bitcoin protocol relies — should be increased or not (read a simple explanation of the block size debate here).
Still, the price of Bitcoin went from roughly $400 to more than $2000 in a year, and other cryptocurrencies followed suit. Why?
So what's happening? Cryptocurrency experts we've contacted say developments in Japan are the likely cause for this latest price surge.
"The Japanese have given bitcoin the green light as a currency and are looking to increase the rigour that their exchanges are subject to," said Charles Haytar, CEO of market analysis platform CryptoCompare. On a purely technical level, the current price differences in the Japanese markets and elsewhere offer the possibility of arbitrage, Hayter claims, but there's a great deal of plain old greed going on, too.