Bitcoin extended gains to a new record on Wednesday after the CME Group Inc.’s announcement of a possible futures contract was seen as a source of legitimacy for the world’s most popular digital currency.

The cryptocurrency rose as much as 3.7 per cent to $6,616 as of 10:50 a.m. in London, in a third day of gains. CME Group announced Tuesday that it plans to introduce trading in bitcoin futures by the end of the year, only a month after dismissing such a plan. Chief Executive Officer Terrence Duffy cited increased client demand as a key reason for the change of mind.

The move offers the world’s largest cryptocurrency an important official recognition, and a chance to go mainstream. With the launch of futures contracts, more institutional investors will be able to invest in bitcoin, having been previously prevented from doing so for regulatory reasons.

Liquidity in bitcoin trading is also expected to increase with the move and creation of bitcoin futures should make it easier to create an exchange-traded fund based on the digital asset.