The value of bitcoin has already fluctuated dramatically, and its future remains far from certain. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
Sure, you can use bitcoin to purchase pillows online, but is it also worth stashing a few under your mattress? The folks who gather at Bitcoin Center New York City think so. Here, bitcoins are bought and sold in a weekly live trading event.
"But I am actively investing in bitcoin," says Tariq Albazzaz, a bitcoin trader.
"I hold at least a couple of bitcoins that I'm never going to spend just because I think if bitcoin ever becomes really big and hundreds of millions of people want it, then having just one bitcoin will be a lot when there's only 21 million," says Joseph Fiscella, a developer and a bitcoin enthusiast.
Alan Mekler, the chairman and CEO of MediaBistro, agrees.
"I don't want anyone to come after me, but I would suggest anybody put at least one bitcoin aside and see what happens over the next five to 10 years," Mekler says.
He aptly describes the potential future of the digital currency as a binary situation. It will either go big or go bust. There is no in between.
"My personal belief is that a bitcoin in five years will be worth somewhere between $10,000 and $1 million, but I'm also saying it could be worth zero," Mekler says.
We've already seen the value of bitcoin fluctuate dramatically, from $1,100 in December to less than half of that amount today. Over that time, the world's largest bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, filed for bankruptcy, claiming to have lost more than 800,000 bitcoins.
It was a major blow to confidence, but believers say it's not the final bell.
"Mt. Gox was not bitcoin," says Austin E. Alexander, deputy director of Bitcoin Center New York City. "It's almost like, 'Oh, if Yahoo fails, does that mean the Internet is done?' Not even close. Not even close."
Still, when it comes to investing, even insiders offer a word of warning.
"When people buy bitcoin because they hope that it will accrue in value, that is something that they are taking a risk, and they should really do their homework," says Andy Roth, pro bono counsel to the Bitcoin Foundation.
Because the bottom line boils down to this: cryptocurrency may be the wave of the future, but the future of bitcoin is far from certain.
"Let's say 10 years from now, we're talking about digital currency still. Doesn't mean necessarily that bitcoin will be the one that survives," says Joe Deaux, an economics analyst at The Street. "We won't really get a sense of it for another five, maybe 10 years. So that's something that investors really should keep an eye out and consider just like any other investment. There's risk inherent in all of this."