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Over time almost every market evolves to some degree. Whether we reference the products and services we use on a daily basis, or the very processes necessary to procure these items,  the development of new technology and a growing demand for quality, convenience, and simplicity, has pushed commerce into a new age. It has transformed staple industries of human society, and altered the way we think about business on the whole. To that end, expansion of e-commerce has brought forth a development that would surprise many people, the evolution of money itself.

Bitcoin came into existence in 2009. It was launched by Satoshi Nakamoto as a decentralized digital currency used in open source software. A method of conducting business that allows people and business entities alike to complete transactions at a high speed, for a low cost. Despite some initial bugs in the process, it was largely a success, with over 1,000 organizations accepting the digital currency as early as 2012.

Since that time, the price of a single Bitcoin has appreciated greatly. In fact, as recently as December of 2013, the price of one Bitcoin rose to roughly $1,000. The currency has dipped a bit in value since that time, but it still holds a relatively high price on the market, and is being met with strong rapport from many investors.

This sentiment is understandable. After all, the new form of currency has a number of advantages. And, at this point in time, it is yet to impact local moneys to a degree that would necessitate questioning its staying power. But for those that do use Bitcoins, the positive traits they possess span further than simply having a decentralized monetary instrument.

Bitcoins offer the consumer the opportunity to do away with tangible dollars and cents. Sources of trade that previously required a physical presence are now based online, and consumers are quickly adopting the exchange method. In turn, the number of merchants that accept Bitcoins has expanded, as well, further supporting its position as a superior payment method. And while some may argue that the use of credit and debit cards at a Web-based marketplace is equally as convenient, the fact that Bitcoins do not carry the transaction and late payment fees of these devices, still makes it a more beneficial option to the consumer. Meanwhile, it also boasts the ability to overcome currency exchange issues when traveling internationally and provides users with a safe alternative to carrying cash.

These positive factors involved in the decision of whether or not to use Bitcoins could persuade investors to attempt to use the currency as a hedge, or gamble on near-term growth for a quick score. But one of the more noteworthy qualities present with regard to the progression of the Bitcoin, is that it is not distributed by any bank or financial entity. This offers its creators and monitors the ability to forgo most overhead and legal costs, putting these assets to work advancing the currency on an international scale. This could help the Bitcoin appreciate at a faster rate over time.

The value of these coins to date is volatile. Over the last year the price of one BTC has fluctuated between $2 and $1000. Taking this into consideration, it is difficult to quantify the potential advances they can make over the next few years. Moreover, the fact that (unlike most other currency on earth) Bitcoins are not backed by the full faith and credit of any sovereign government, they lack the safety net that normally exists when investing. It implies that the value of these coins is solely generated by the willingness of individuals to accept them in exchange for goods and services. Indeed, many merchants have adopted the use of this currency to please the likes of innovative and cost-minded consumers worldwide, but the risk present here is great, and awaiting more statistical data before getting one’s feet wet would probably be a good idea.

At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have any positions in any of the companies mentioned.