The price of bitcoin topped $1,000 Monday after Zynga, an online gaming company, announced it would begin testing using the digital currency as payment. Above, an April 2013 file photos shows a roll of bitcoin tokens. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press / April 3, 2013)

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The price of bitcoin shot up past $1,000 Monday after Zynga, an online gaming company, announced it would test using the digital currency as payment.

Bitcoin, the volatile unregulated currency, has hit highs and lows in recent weeks and has gained widespread use. The currency recently plummeted in value after China took actions to limit its use in the country.

It hit a high of $1,093 on the Mt. Gox online exchange, a major bitcoin trading exchange, before retreating to around $1,000 Monday morning. 

In an announcement posted to Reddit over the weekend, Zynga said it would accept bitcoin for payment for games such as "FarmVille 2," "Castleville" and five other games. 

"In response to Bitcoin’s rise in popularity around the world, Zynga, with help from BitPay, is testing expanded payment options for players to make in-game purchases using bitcoin," the company said. 

Over the last four years, the currency has been elbowing its way from the digital ether into popular use because people, companies and organizations have decided to believe that it has value as a currency. 

A university in Cyprus recently announced it would begin accepting tuition payments in bitcoin. A Newport Beach auto dealership said last month it accepted bitcoin as payment for the first time, in the sale of a Tesla Model S Performance electric car.

Last summer, twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss — who settled claims that social network Facebook Inc. was their idea — filed paperwork to launch the first bitcoin-related investment offering on Wall Street. Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts recently issued their first note on the digital currency. Supporters have formed a political action committee to back bitcoin in Washington. 

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