The value of a bitcoin has risen over $1,000 (£610) for the first time ever, just months after a single unit of the digital currency was priced at around $10.

At 7.25am on the Pacific coast (3.25pm GMT), bitcoins were trading for $1,041 on Mt. Gox, the most high profile exchange for the country in the world, according to reports from Wired.

Dan Held, an expert in tracking the bitcoin market, told the website: "China is still driving overall demand. However, I think there has been a paradigm shift in how people think about Bitcoin in the US.

"Over the last few days, my friends, parents' friends, and people that I never thought would buy bitcoin have contact me, not asking 'what is bitcoin,' but 'how do I get bitcoin?"


Bitcoin has seen a surge in value in recent weeks after it received recognition from a series of major businesses and authorities across the world.

It featured in a US Senate hearing last week to consider the possibility it could be placed under American regulation.

In a letter written ahead of the congressional hearings US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke states that although the Federal Reserve "does not necessarily have authority to directly supervise or regulate" virtual currencies, such innovations may hold "long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system."

"In general," writes Bernanke, "the Federal Reserve would only have authority to regulate a virtual currency product if it is issued by, or cleared or settled through, a banking organization that we supervise."

It was also announced by Sir Richard Branson that his space tourism company Virgin Atlantic will start accepting bitcoins as payment.

"All of our future astronauts are pioneers in their own right," wrote Sir Richard, "and this is one more way to be forward-thinking."