Bitcoin smashed through the $7,000 barrier Thursday, extending its incredible six-fold year-to-date gains to trade at a level that is now five times the price of gold.

Bitcoin prices were marked $380 higher, or 5.65%, on the Bitsmap exchange in London Thursday to change hands at an all-time high of $7,142.04 each before paring gains to around $7,018.60. Bitcoins have risen more than 40% since passing the $5,000 barrier on Oct. 12 and have surged 640% -- from $966.30 -- since the start of the year. At the current levels, a single bitcoin is now worth 5.5 troy ounces of gold, based on current spot prices.

The recent runup in prices parallels a statement from the CME Group earlier this week that it will launch a bitcoin futures contract later this year based on the one-day dollar-denominated reference point of the cryptocurrency.

"Given increasing client interest in the evolving crypto-currency markets, we have decided to introduce a bitcoin futures contract," CME chairman Terry Duffy said earlier this week when the group announced the impending contract.

Ron Paul's Take on Cryptocurrency

When it comes to the cryptocurrencies, big brother is watching too close for comfort says former congressman and noted libertarian Ron Paul in a recent interview.

 "There is too much surveillance already on how the currencies are transferred, [how] the reports have to be made by the exchanges to the IRS," said Paul, now the Chief Ambassador for Goldco. "If it is a really good deal and a good process rest assured the government will be looking at it very carefully...it makes me very nervous."

The former presidential candidate said he wanted to legalize all competing currencies when he was in office and says is all for it. "If the people want it and want to use it, the government should stay out of it." Watch his video interview here.

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