Talking with NPR, Campbell Harvey, a financial economist at Duke University, contends that Bitcoin is 10 times more volatile than the changes in the price of gold and 20 times more volatile than holding U.S. dollars.
But just as the fluctuation can take you from rags to riches, bitcoin transactions can also go downhill for merchants. The value of the digital currency fell in the first week of February from a steady $850 to $700, according to CoinDesk, which tracks current bitcoin prices. Currently, the value hovers around the low- to mid-$600s.
“As a store of value, Bitcoin is very unreliable today,” [Campbell] Harvey says. “It is 10 times more volatile than the changes in the price of gold. It is 20 times more volatile than holding U.S. dollars.”
That’s why some food merchants, like [Giuseppe] Lanzone and his brother, Mario, have opted to cash in their bitcoins right after they make a sale.
The future of the 5-year-old bitcoin is still uncertain. Millions of dollars’ worth of bitcoins were seized from the infamous bust of Silk Road, a shadowy illicit online marketplace, and bitcoin prices have taken a nosedive in the past months. Just last week, a glitch in Mt. Gox, the leading bitcoin exchange site, made prices drop once again.