Bitcoin vaults above $50,000 for first time

Bitcoin has leapt above $50,000 for the first time.

The new record high on Tuesday (February 16) built on a rally fueled by signs that the world's biggest cryptocurrency is gaining mainstream acceptance.

Bitcoin soon edged back from the record high, but it's still up around 70% so far this year.

Most of the gains came after electric carmaker Tesla said it had bought $1.5 billion in bitcoin.

And would accept the currency as payment for its cars.

But Tesla was only the latest in a string of large investments that have vaulted bitcoin

from the fringes of finance to company balance sheets and Wall Street dealing desks.

OANDA Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam though says it's is still in its "early stages":

"Not every company is Tesla. Not every CEO is Elon Musk. But that doesn't mean they're not going to be adding their names to the list of those preparing for possibility where Bitcoin becomes part of the future. I'm sure it's going to be a wild ride. That's the one thing you can say for certain,"

One manager at crypto hedge fund ARK36 told Reuters that he would "like to offer a word of caution", and that while the "long-term outlook is bullish, massive price fluctuations along the way are only to be expected. Bitcoin is still extremely volatile."

Smaller cryptocurrency ethereum edged over 1% higher on Tuesday, just shy of its own record high.