Bitcoin has started new year with a surge: its value hit a 3-year high of more than $1,000. The cryptocurrency has long been criticized as a vehicle for illegal activities like drug dealers and tax evaders, but in the end it outperformed all its central-bank-issued counterparts with a 125% climb in value last year. According to the industry experts, Bitcoin soaring value may have been boosted in 2016 by increased demand in China against the background of a fall in the value of the yuan, which saw the weakest annual performance in more than two decades. The statistics shows that most Bitcoin trading is done in China. Bitcoin is convenient for many, because it helps move money across the world quickly and anonymously. The currency is not controlled by any central bank or government, which appeals to those who need to get around capital controls. Besides, the currency is attractive to people worried about a shortage of cash – for example, in India high-denomination banknotes were removed from circulation in late 2016. The cryptocurrency still hasn’t beaten its $1,163 high reached 3 years ago. However, there are now many more Bitcoins in circulation, as 12 coins are added to the system every 10 minutes. Bitcoin total worth exceeds $16bn, which equals its value to that of an average FTSE 100 company. Three years ago, the currency boomed when users and speculators rushed to invest in Bitcoin, as it was going to turn into a platform for a disruptive new financial services industry. At the time, Bitcoin value increased tenfold in just 2 months, but after the Tokyo-based Mt Gox Bitcoin exchange was hacked, the currency value plunged to less than $400.