Bitcoin, the volatile digital currency, flirted with $17,000 on Thursday.
Still under $14,000 in Asian trading hours, it smashed through $15,000 in European trading and got as high as $16,777 before pulling back, according to Bloomberg data. Near 2145 GMT, bitcoin stood at $16,070.
The rally came just a day after the virtual currency, which has been used to buy everything from an ice cream to a pint of beer, hit the $12,000 mark for the first time. The eye-popping rise has seen the currency's value soar more than 50 percent in just one week, and from just $752 in mid-January.
Bitcoin -- which came into being in 2009 as a bit of encrypted software -- has no central bank backing it and no legal exchange rate.
It has surged dramatically in the past month, driven by growing acceptance among traditional investors of an innovation once considered the preserve of computer nerds and financial experts, and sometimes more shady users.
A Bloomberg report said that Bitcoin’s extraordinary price surge means its market capitalization now exceeds the annual output of a country such as New Zealand.
The South Pacific nation’s farm-and-tourism-led economy is valued at $185 billion, according to World Bank data as of July, putting it some $5 billion below bitcoin, the report said.