Bitcoin surged past $19,000 for the first time Thursday before falling sharply from its record high.
In trading on the Coinbase exchange, the digital currency hit a high of $19,340 after soaring through $12,000 on just Tuesday night. After hitting the record high Thursday, bitcoin fell more than 20 percent from that level to $15,198.63. At 12:02 p.m. New York time, the cryptocurrency traded at $16,260.01.
Despite its wild ride, bitcoin now has a market value of more than $270 billion, meaning it would rank among the 20 largest stocks in the S&P 500.
The digital currency began the year below $1,000 and its gains have accelerated as investor interest grows.