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Expand chart
Data: Coin Metrics; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Bitcoin's market cap — the amount of bitcoin in the world multiplied by its current price — is at an all-time high.

Driving the news: A recent embrace by PayPal and other mainstream figureheads along with expansionist Fed policy and a weaker dollar have sent individual bitcoin prices yesterday to a 2020 high of $18,350.

By the numbers: Despite being more than a grand shy of its all-time high of $19,666 on Dec. 17, 2017, bitcoin’s recent market cap is a record $328 billion, about $10 billion less than Mastercard.

  • Bitcoin is up 145% on the year, far outperforming most stocks.

Sleeper theory: Also lurking behind Bitcoin’s recent price surge is a supply crunch from bitcoin miners in China.

  • Chinese miners, who control over 70% of bitcoin’s hashrate or mining power, have been facing challenges liquidating their crypto holdings for cash because many are finding their bank accounts and cards frozen as a part of the Chinese government’s nationwide crackdown on telecommunications fraud and money laundering via cryptocurrency deals.
  • Thomas Heller, formerly global business director at the mining pool F2Pool and now chief operation officer of mining and media firm HASHR8, confirmed the Chinese miners’ predicament earlier this week, saying it’s currently a “challenge” for Chinese miners to convert bitcoin and tether into cash. 

Editor's note: The final two bullets of this story have been updated with new information.

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