Bitcoin soared through the key $50,000 level on Tuesday for the first time as the growing acceptance of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency among large banks and investment funds continued to draw in mainstream investors.

After a meteoric rise in which its value increased by 75% since the start of the year, the currency hit $50,547.70 (£36,320) per coin in European trading at around 12.35 GMT.

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The price surge means Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla has piled up a virtual profit of $420m in the week since the entrepreneur said the business had bought bitcoins then worth $1.5bn. At the time of the announcement, on 8 February, bitcoin was trading at $39,406.

Only last March, bitcoin was trading at below $6,000 and in 2016 a single coin was worth less than $400.

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