Bitcoin surged to a new all-time high of just under $608 amidst growing popularity among investors for the virtual currency.

bitcoins

The digital currency surged to just under $608 on Mt. Gox exchange Monday afternoon in Asia, up 24.5% from the same time on Sunday.

U.S. Senate Committee to discuss today

John Philips, Digital editor for CNBC notes Bitcoin’s latest gains come as the potential for regulation hangs over the market, with a U.S. Senate Committee to discuss virtual currencies later on Monday.

Last week, regulators in New York have announced a series of hearings to consider whether Bitcoin should be regulated. The New York State Department of Financial Services indicated the agency has been investigating the regulatory guidelines for virtual currencies like Bitcoin since August. One of the topics that will be discussed in the hearings in New York is whether regulators should hand out what they call BitLicenses. The licenses would be given to businesses which regulators decide are complying with new laws regarding digital currencies, including Bitcoin.

Bitcoins are legitimate instruments

Max Raskin of Bloomberg reports that the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are telling a U.S. Senate committee that Bitcoins are legitimate financial instruments, boosting its wider acceptance.

According to letters released by representatives from the agencies, they informed the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ahead of a hearing Monday that the digital money offers benefits and risks, like any other online-payment system.

China’s boost

The popularity of the digital currency got a boost after BTC China’s announcement Monday that it received $5 million in Series-A financing, which is the first round of financing undergone for a new business venture after receiving seed capital from institutional investors such as Lightspeed China Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Recently, BTC China’s vice president Linke Yang indicated the main reason for Bitcoin becoming big in China is because Chinese people are savers and more people are seeing Bitcoin as a way to store and invest their money.

Though Bitcoin appreciated over 50-fold from $11 in mid-November 2012, some analysts believe the recent rise is not overdone and the rise of Bitcoin is just the beginning.