Bitcoin moved beyond $8,000 for the first time on Friday on news that a software upgrade, SegWit2x hard fork will deliver Bitcoin owners a new cryptocurrency.
Earlier on Friday, the virtual currency was just below $8,000 after the suspension of SegWit2x upgrade last week would go ahead within hours according to Coinbase, the world’s largest bitcoin company.
“The Bitcoin Segwit2x fork is expected to occur in the next six hours,” the company said in a statement published at 1004 GMT.
The bitcoin ride
The upgrade would split or “fork” bitcoin into two versions. If a bitcoin clone were created, any holders would also in theory instantly become owners of the new spin-off.
Bitcoin, generally highly volatile, has been on a particularly wild ride, sliding at the end of last week to as low as $5,555 after plans for Segwit2x were suspended, before bouncing more than 40% since Sunday.
Earlier this week, mobile money transfer service, Square Cash, said it would pilot a programme to allow its users to buy bitcoin directly from its smartphone app pushing the virtual currency up 9%.
Speculation drives virtual currency higher
It reached as high as $7,997 in early Asian trading on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, before easing back a touch to trade broadly flat by 1115 GMT at $7,863.
Market-watchers said speculation about the fork was driving bitcoin higher. If it went ahead as expected, holders of the cryptocurrency would be able to sell the spin-off at a profit if the market were to assign it any value.
But in a post on the Medium blogging platform, the company’s communications director David Farmer said Coinbase did not expect the fork to successfully split bitcoin in two, as it lacked the necessary support from the network to do so. Coinbase said it is actively monitoring developments.