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The price of bitcoin broke through $1,400 in trading Monday as renewed investor interest and growing demand from Japan drove the price of the cryptocurrency to a new record high.

At its peak, bitcoin hit $1,426.54, up from its most recent peak of $1290.56 on April 26 and its previous record high of $1290.79 on March 3.

Much of the demand for bitcoin came from Japan, in particular Japanese bitcoin exchange BitFlyer. A staggering 52 percent of all global bitcoin transactions in the 24-hour period leading up to the new record bitcoin price came in the form of Japanese Yen exchanges, versus only 28 percent of trades involving U.S. dollars.

Interest in bitcoin was predicted to surge in the country in April after the Japanese government recognized bitcoin as a legal payment method. As a consequence, two major retailers in the country, covering hundreds of thousands of physical outlets, said they would move to accept the cryptocurrency as a payment option.

Increasing investor interest is also attributed in part to the price surge. Bitcoin is increasingly seen as a long-term investment opportunity for some individual and even institutional investors.

“The biggest driver right now is you’re starting to see institutional investors take a keen interest in the entire sector,” analyst Brian Kelly told CNBC. “I don’t think this is hot money. This is real money that’s going to sit around and build the new internet.” Kelly added that emerging consensus in the bitcoin community to embrace Bitcoin Core, an upgrade of the existing bitcoin system, over Bitcoin Unlimited, a proposed change that would split bitcoin into two currencies, was also boosting investor sentiment.

As of midnight EDT May 2, bitcoin was trading at $1,416.71, slightly down on its peak but still in record high territory.

Photo: Pixabay

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