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In 2012, The Economist reasoned that Bitcoin has been popular because of “its role in dodgy online markets”, and in 2013 the FBI shut down one such service, Silk Road, which specialized in illegal drugs (whereupon the FBI took control of approximately 1.5% of all bitcoins in circulation). However, Bitcoins are increasingly used as payment for legitimate products and services, and merchants have an incentive to accept the currency because transaction fees are lower than the 2 to 3% typically imposed by credit card processors. Notable vendors include OkCupid, Reddit, WordPress, and Chinese Internet giant Baidu.
Speculators have been attracted to Bitcoin, fueling volatility and price swings. As of November 2013, the use of Bitcoin in the retail and commercial marketplace is relatively small compared with a relatively large use by speculators.
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What Is Bitcoin Mining?