The digital currency bitcoin rose above $9,000 this weekend and was approaching $9,700 early Monday.

That's up from $8,000 just a week earlier and a remarkable 860 percent increase since the beginning of the year.

Riding that bitcoin wave has been Riot Blockchain Inc., which changed its focus from a biotech to become a digital currency business last month and its shares have been surging along with bitcoin's rise.

The Castle Rock company (Nasdaq: RIOT) said it wants to become "a strategic investor and operator in the blockchain ecosystem with a particular focus on the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains."

Why the recent surge in bitcoin?

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