There’s no stopping bitcoin right now.
And it's been smashing through milestones at an increasing rate: it soared above $8,000 just over two weeks ago and only passed $9,000 for the first time over the weekend. In the past two-and-a-half weeks alone, bitcoin has skyrocketed more than 70%.
Its stratospheric rise this year has prompted warnings of a bubble. But experts say that the gains in recent weeks have been driven by the expectation that more mainstream investors -- like hedge funds and asset managers -- are gearing up to start investing in the digital currency.
Next month, investors should be able to start trading bitcoin futures via the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which is expected to give the virtual currency more legitimacy among professional investors. Futures allow traders to bet on the future price of assets like currencies, metals and agricultural commodities.
Thomas Glucksmann, head of marketing at Hong Kong cryptocurrency exchange Gate Coin, told CNNMoney earlier this week that passing $10,000 would be a key milestone for bitcoin.
It could "push more institutional investors into the mix," he said.
The virtual currency has famously attracted the derision of JPMorgan Chase ( CEO Jamie Dimon, who called it a )"fraud" that would "eventually blow up." But other leading figures in finance, including Goldman Sachs ( CEO Lloyd Blankfein, have defended it. )