Digital currency bitcoin has rocketed above $7,000 (€6,000) for the first time ever today, after a more than seven-fold increase in its value since the start of the year.

Bitcoin has seen eye-watering gains in recent months and has more than doubled in value in the past seven weeks alone.

It hit as high as $7,066.44 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange this morning.

The latest rally was driven by news earlier this week that the world's largest derivatives exchange operator CME Group is to launch bitcoin futures.

The price move takes bitcoin's aggregate value, or "market cap" - its price multiplied by the number of bitcoins released into circulation - to more than $117 billion, according to industry website Coinmarketcap.

The aggregate value of all crypto currencies is now at a record high of over $190 billion, the website said.