Will the history books show 2017 as the year Bitcoin transformed itself from the speculative darling of the tech set into a legitimate currency?

The digital currency not only increased tenfold in value this year – in January bitcoin traded at $US1000 each and in November hit $10,000 – but more and more global firms are now beginning to accept payments in Bitcoin¹.

PwC Hong Kong announced it had accepted its first payment in Bitcoin for its consulting services this month, the first of the global consulting firms to do so, citing increased work with startups that deal with cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

Bitcoin, conceived by businessman Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009, is big business. With the total value in circulation now estimated to be more than $US270 billion at time of publish, its value is greater than New Zealand’s economy and some of the world’s biggest companies, according to Bloomberg analysis².

In December, Bitcoin futures began trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange, and its value rose further, defying bearish sentiment towards it³.

The way the finance industry is tracking, the use of digital tender is still in its infancy. As cash transactions around the world decline, companies must begin to explore how cryptocurrencies fit into their business’ future. This is particularly true if they want to work with clients and customers who prefer to transact in a currency that is not state-controlled or subject to conventional bank fees.

But tread carefully. Bitcoin remains volatile, and short sellers are circling, subscribing to the theory of what goes up, must come down. And while blockchain as a technology is immutable, the currency itself is not immune to hackers when it comes to digital wallets and exchanges4.

In the meantime, it’s worth taking note of this infographic which charts the lightning-speed trajectory of bitcoin in 2017 up to reaching the $10,000 mark, despite enduring its fair share of adversity.

Infographic: The stratospheric rise of bitcoin