Virtual currency bitcoin crossed $7,000 (Rs 4.52 lakh) apiece in value for the first time on Thursday evening after financial market company CME Group Inc announced it would launch bitcoin futures by the end of the year.

Futures contracts are deals in which buyers and sellers, for an extra nominal charge, agree to exchange an asset at a later date, but at the current prices. This helps both parties avoid losses if the prices were to rise or fall unfavourably later.

The cryptocurrency was trading at $7,216 on Friday at 11.30 am. It has been rising since CME Group’s announcement on Tuesday. It reached an all-time high of $7,355.35 at 4.46 pm on Thursday.

Within 24 hours of the announcement, bitcoin exchange Coinbase added more than 1 lakh users, Bloomberg reported.