Bitcoin has earned both kudos and condemnation for its key features: particularly, its decentralization and focus on privacy. Although these features please those who want currency options beyond government control, they also please criminals who want to conduct transactions beyond the eyes of law enforcement. But regardless of the particular uses of Bitcoin, Frederic Paul at Network World questions whether it really stands a chance as a competing currency, mainly because of its lack of stability. A chart of Bitcoin values over the past year shows a sharp rise in value relative to the dollar in spring of this year, followed by a nearly as precipitous plunge. Since then, the currency has varied considerably, showing something of a downward trend in the late spring and summer, followed by an upward trend in the late summer and fall.
Whether these fluctuations are simply the result of Bitcoin finding its place in society among tightly government-controlled currencies that lack appeal among many, or whether it is in the nature of Bitcoin itself, remains to be seen. Stability may grow over time, assuming the currency goes largely unregulated, but its uncertain future as governments decide how to address Bitcoin means its value could change drastically at the stroke of a legislative pen.
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