Bitcoin is on the verge of taking out the $10,000 barrier.
If you told someone that in the first quarter of this year, all you'd hear is ridicule. Chants of "It's a bubble!" and calls warning one not to put their money into this volatile and dangerous, dare we say, asset class.
But cryptocurrencies have officially gone mainstream. More and more people are asking what Bitcoin is and how they can buy it. It may have even been a conversation over the Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family. According to some recent data, almost 100,000 new Coinbase accounts were opened over the weekend.
Further, the CME Group (CME) - Get Report will begin offering bitcoin futures in the second week of December. Will this count towards a buy-the-rumor, sell-the-news setup or will it provide institutional players a gateway into the cryptocurrency space and drive bitcoin prices even higher?
It's too tough to say, particularly for something like bitcoin. I just can't imagine buying a few digital coins for $10,000 a pop. Particularly when that "coin" is up more than 750% so far in 2017. Bitcoin, now trading a hair under $9,700, was actually cheaper than an ounce of gold at the start of the year. In fact, it was $200 below the spot price of the yellow metal in early 2017.
While bitcoin has smashed the returns of gold over the last year, many will still have trouble opting for the digital alternative. Without buying bitcoin, is there any other way to play, though?
No doubt Square (SQ) - Get Reportgetting into the bitcoin game likely helped its stock. While tumbling some 6% Monday, Square stock is doing its best to keep pace with bitcoin, as it's up 85% over the past three months. It's now up almost 250% so far on the year. Recently, the company began a pilot program allowing users to buy and sell bitcoin. Should it eventually accept bitcoin as an approved method of payment on its point of sale system, bitcoin prices could really explode higher.
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Another way to play includes Nvidia (NVDA) - Get Report . To find gold, companies use expensive machines and humans to go out and physically mine the yellow metal from the earth. Bitcoin works in a similar fashion -- sort of. We mine it with computers. The computing power necessary is very large and the graphic chip demand is high. Nvidia's high-powered GPUs are needed on this front, helping to drive sales and earnings higher.
Fad or not, people are buying these hand over fist to mine their own cryptocurrency haul. Nvidia is a holding in Jim Cramer'sAction Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells NVDA?Learn more now.
There's also Overstock (OSTK) - Get Report , which has accepted bitcoin since 2014. An early observer of the cryptocurrency, Overstock is not necessarily a direct play on bitcoin. But given the growth of e-commerce and its acceptance of bitcoin, some may find it an appropriate alternative. Plus, Overstock is hitting new highs, so that's promising as well.
Finally, there's Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) . While being priced at a premium to bitcoin at its current prices, the security offers investors a familiar landscape. You can buy it through your broker and it's eligible in more accounts (like IRAs). It can be held in a brokerage account and has high-barrier security channels in place. Those who want direct exposure may be better off on Coinbase with direct bitcoin ownership. Plus, there's no big premium for owning bitcoin. But the GBTC could be one alternative if that better suits investors.
It's also no surprise that the Bitcoin Investment Trust is also hitting new highs alongside bitcoin.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.