a close up of a hand holding a coin: The bitcoin price hit a record high of $49,998 on the Binance exchange Ozan Kose/Getty Images

© Ozan Kose/Getty Images The bitcoin price hit a record high of $49,998 on the Binance exchange Ozan Kose/Getty Images

The bitcoin price hit a record high just $2 away from the vaunted $50,000 mark on Tuesday, as interest from Wall Street institutions added momentum to the remarkable rally.

Bitcoin rose to $49,998 on the Binance exchange, which saw the most volume over the last 24 hours, before slipping back. It touched a high of $49,873 on the Coinbase exchange.

The bitcoin price (BTC) was up around 2.9% to $49,107 at 4.15am ET on Binance.

Elon Musk’s Tesla triggered the latest climb higher on February 8, when it revealed it had bought $1.5 billion of the cryptocurrency in January. It also said it intended to start accepting the coin as payment.

Since then, interest from major financial firms including BNY Mellon and Mastercard has helped support the rally by adding legitimacy to the asset.

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BNY Mellon plans to issue, hold, and transfer clients’ bitcoin, it announced on February 11. It would be the first global bank to provide an integrated digital asset service to its customers.

Mastercard will begin allowing customers to use “select cryptocurrencies” on its network later this year, it announced on February 10.

More recently, Bloomberg reported that a $150 billion investment arm of Morgan Stanley is considering betting on bitcoin. Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

And JPMorgan co-president Daniel Pinto said he is “sure” more banks will start getting involved thanks to client demand. He told CNBC on Friday: “The demand isn’t there yet, but I’m sure it will be at some point.”

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The interest from big players has supported the narrative that institutional investors are increasingly interested in bitcoin. This belief has been a key driver of the astounding rally in the bitcoin price from below $4,000 in March 2020 to inches away from $50,000.

It has also helped other cryptocurrencies such as ether, the coin on the Ethereum network. The ether price was up around 2.3% to $1,801 on Tuesday morning, after hitting a record high of above $1,870 over the weekend.

“It’s been a fantastic couple of weeks for the cryptocurrency space, with numerous big names making bitcoin related announcements,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at currency platform Oanda.

“A break of $50,000 almost feels inevitable at this point, it’s more a question of how much further it can go and how fast.”