Bitcoin serves as a new kind of currency for the digital era. It works across international borders and doesn’t need to be backed by banks or governments.
Or at least that was the promise when it was created in 2009. The surge and volatility of bitcoin this year may be great for those who invested early, but it undermines bitcoin’s viability as a currency.
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Right now, I can use my bitcoin holdings to pay for purchases at Overstock (OSTBP), or book a hotel on Expedia (EXPE). But if I use bitcoin to buy $25 worth of socks on Overstock today, and the price of bitcoin quadruples next week, I’ll feel like those socks actually cost me $100. Then again, if bitcoin crashes, at least I’ll always have the socks.
Rather than a currency, bitcoin is being treated more like an asset, with the hope of reaping great returns in the future.