Bitcoin has been called "digital gold" in the past. As of Thursday, the price of a single unit of the popular cryptocurrency had climbed above the price of an ounce of gold.

At around 10:20 a.m. ET Thursday, the price of Bitcoin rose to $1,241.30—an all-time high for the digital currency. At the same time, gold sat at about $1,241.25 per ounce. The price of Bitcoin has fluctuated throughout the day, but has generally managed to remain above gold in value.

The cryptocurrency has been making steady gains since the start of 2017, when it was priced at valued at just under $1,000. Save for some major spikes in January, bitcoin has been making a continuous climb and had reached new highs for several consecutive days before surpassing gold.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has classified bitcoin as a commodity, putting it in the same category as gold. However, bitcoin has historically had a much smaller market cap and much more volatile swings than the steady price of the precious metal.

The gains for bitcoin appear to be primarily due to optimism regarding the future of the currency. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently examining several bitcoin-based exchange traded funds (ETF), including the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, an ETF being proposed by the entrepreneur Winklevoss twins that will allow the public to invest in bitcoins.

A decision from the SEC is expected by March 11. If approved, it would open bitcoin up to a much larger audience of investors. Currently, there is a considerable barrier to entry in getting involved with the cryptocurrency, but an ETF would allow small traders and institutions to trade in bitcoin without having to mine their own.

The Donald Trump administration has brought surprising promise for bitcoin, as instability elsewhere in the market has suddenly made the currency more appeals. A less-stringent regulatory presence from the current administration also has driven some of the currency's recent growth.

The technology behind bitcoin transactions—blockchain—has also gained a considerable amount of attention in recent months. Earlier this year, congressmen Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, and Arizona Republican David Schweikert launched the bipartisan Blockchain Caucus to help create sound public policy for blockchain technologies and digital currencies.