What happened

Leading cryptocurrency bitcoin is trading above $9,000 for the first time in more than a year. As of 10:30 a.m. EDT, bitcoin had risen by nearly 18% over the past 24 hours to a price just shy of $9,300.

As might be expected, Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTC:GBTC), which enables investors to buy bitcoins without directly owning them, followed suit -- to up by more than 13%.

Design of bitcoin symbols.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

After a dismal 2018 and a drop in investor interest, bitcoin has rebounded nicely in 2019. Since New Year's Day, bitcoin is up by more than 140%.

Generally speaking, the rise in bitcoin's price this year seems to be fueled by renewed interest in cryptocurrencies among investors. Adding fuel to this fire are recent reports that Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is getting ready to launch a cryptocurrency of its own, which could be officially announced in a matter of days. According to reports, the cryptocurrency will be called GlobalCoin, will launch in 2020, and will be a stablecoin, meaning that it will be pegged to the U.S. dollar.

Many tech and e-commerce giants have spoken in support of Facebook's efforts. Facebook has signed up companies such as Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal to support its cryptocurrency. This level of "Main Street" attention has dramatically raised the legitimacy profile of cryptocurrencies as a whole.

Now what

One of the major obstacles to bitcoin's gaining more investor interest has been the legitimacy of the idea that cryptocurrencies can become mainstream methods of payment for goods and services. While the recent Facebook news certainly looks promising, it remains to be seen if the social media giant's new virtual currency will actually end up being used on a wide scale.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.