Bitcoin, somehow, continues to persist despite mounting evidence that it’s not the best use of your money. The digital “cryptocurrency” hit a record high on Thursday, trading above $1,200 according to several exchanges.
Financial experts have largely cast aside the web-based currency as a legitimate investment, calling it too volatile, too risky, and in some cases, a scam. The Financial Times also reported in 2015 that bitcoin has all of the attributes of a pyramid scheme. The cryptocurrency has long been embroiled in a history of fuck-ups and controversies, including a half-a-billion-dollar heist from the world’s largest bitcoin exchange in 2014.
It doesn’t help that the currency’s origin story is murky, too. Bitcoin was supposedly created by an unidentified programmer (or group of programmers) under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Although several news outlets have tried in the past to identify Nakamoto, the creator still remains unknown.
Invented in 2008, bitcoin has continually beat the odds as its value has consistently risen despite escalating criticism from wealth experts. According to a CNBC report, bitcoin “performed better than any other currency in every year since 2010 apart from 2014, when it was the worst-performing currency.” And, of course, it’s already been declared dead dozens of times.
So what’s been propping up bitcoin’s value?
The currency’s price saw a sharp uptick this week due to an increased amount of speculation that the first bitcoin ETF, an investment fund traded on stock exchanges, is closing in on approval from US regulators, according to recent CNBC and Bloomberg reports.
But as the New York Times reported last year, a small group of Chinese companies have effectively gained control of bitcoin, making it vulnerable to market manipulation. Add that on top of the fact that bitcoin exchanges are prone to collapsing (as they have in the past) and you have a digital currency that is, according to the Financial Times, essentially worthless. At least it’s good for entertainment.