Bad Reputation
Bitcoin, a digital currency designed for near-anonymous transactions, has yet to shake its reputation as a currency for the criminal-minded. It has been associated with drug sales, Ponzi schemes and even a ransom demand for Mitt and Ann Romney's tax records late last year. (Image: ShutterStock)
Spreading the Word
But a near-anonymous currency doesn't need to be shunned by the good guys. Companies like Wordpress began accepting bitcoins to facilitate free speech from users who live in a part of the world where payment options are limited or where they would need to overcome political hurdles to having their voices heard. (Image: ShutterStock)
Pricing Problems
The price of bitcoins swung wildly in recent weeks, an issue attributed both to speculation and to denial-of-service attacks on Mt. Gox, the largest company that exchanges bitcoins for other currencies. As the price began to plummet, businesses that accept payments in bitcoins took some losses. (Image: ShutterStock)
Government Scrutiny
Mt. Gox's problems continued to mount. The Department of Homeland Security seized the Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange's funds held in accounts at Dwolla and Wells Fargo, citing allegations that Mt. Gox operated as an unlicensed money transmitter. (Image: ShutterStock)
David and Goliath
But Mt. Gox's problems may be good for the bitcoin economy overall, some say. The digital currency is designed to be decentralized, and could be better served by an assortment of small bitcoin exchanges than one dominant exchange. Mt. Gox may be too big a target, attracting attention from regulators and hackers. (Image: ShutterStock)
Feeling Charitable
Bitcoin is gaining popularity among companies that serve charities. Humble Bundle, which offers name-your-own-price bundles of computer games to raise money for indie developers and charity, began accepting bitcoins in its last sale. The non-profit Fr33 Aid accepts donations only in bitcoins. (Image: ShutterStock)
Have It Your Way
Burger King may not accept bitcoins at its registers, but it is one of 200 retailers that accepts Gyft's virtual gift cards. And Gyft now accepts bitcoins for all of its virtual cards. Bitcoin may have a bite-sized following now, but it could turn into a whopper of a phenomenon if more retailers accept it. (Image: Bloomberg News)
Investors Take Interest
If the turnout at the recent Bitcoin Conference 2013 is any indication, there will be a lot more to see in the bitcoin economy in the near future. Investors and entrepreneurs gathered at the event to discuss the digital currency's best bets for success. (Image: ShutterStock)
Plugged In with PayPal?
PayPal's President, David Marcus, recently raised the possibility of working with bitcoins. "For us at PayPal, it's just a question of whether Bitcoin will make its way to PayPal as a funding instrument or not, and we're kind of thinking about it," he said in a TV interview. (Image: Bloomberg News)