Aug. 14 (UPI) -- The digital currency bitcoin passed the $4,000 threshold for the first time ever on Monday, driven by weekend demand in Japan, analysts said.
The Internet-traded currency, unattached to any national bank's regulators and with a supply capped at 21 million, hit $4,251.02 on Monday afternoon, an 18 percent gain over Friday.
Strong demand from Japan, prompted by international tensions involving North Korea, China and the United States, increased Bitcoin's market capitalization by $15 billion in the past week, CNBC reported on Monday.
Japanese yen has accounted for 42 percent of bitcoin purchases, CNBC said, adding that Japan retailers began accepting bitcoin as legal tender earlier this year. Bitcoin value is up 320 percent since the start of the year.
Another factor in bitcoin's rapid appreciation was the introduction last week of SegWit2x, an upgraded trading protocol. After controversy within the bitcoin community of traders, transaction size capable on the blockchain, the technology used for bitcoin trading, was increased, Bloomberg News reported Monday.