Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, this week reached a new high, cracking the $2,400 mark.
As a currency, bitcoin is notoriously volatile. For example, this year alone its value has more than doubled. A year ago, it was only $450. But there have also been sharp, if temporary, crashes: Bitcoin’s all-time high was once $1,163 in 2013 before crashing to $400 in 2014.
Another concern of the underground currency is that bitcoin can only be spent on select things—it’s mostly traded online, often through obscure sites—though over time the number of purchasable goods as increased.
The underlying technology behind bitcoin is blockchain, a financial ledger that tracks the movement of assets without the interference of a regulator, making the currency appealing to some. Many new startups are also being built around blockchain technology now.
As bitcoin gains popularity and rises in value, nations that have been ignoring it—including the US—may be at risk for passing on a major opportunity.
“I will say that the US is rapidly losing its global financial hub status because of this,” argued Brian Kelly, founder of hedge fund BKCM, at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2017 conference.