Zach Harvey, an entrepreneur in New Hampshire who developed a Bitcoin ATM, describes the wild price fluctuations as growing pains.
"The currency is far from being stable, and it probably won't be for a while," said Harvey, CEO of Lamassu.
But that makes bitcoins maddening both for consumers and the businesses that accept them. The constantly changing value is what drives Ryan Hurley's law firm in Scottsdale, Ariz., to cash them out every day in U.S. dollars. And it's why Sapan Shah, a Subway sandwich owner in Allentown, Penn., needs to do some extra math before he pays his suppliers in cash.
Josh Arias, a barber in Reno, Nev., started accepting bitcoins as payment from clients in September. He was forced to ask customers to email him payments after Apple(AAPL) turned its back on Blockchain, a key Bitcoin transaction app. Arias said he worries that slowing down the payments process will deter new customers from trying it out.
Then again, it's still a technological wonder that's done what no bank has managed to do. Want to transfer money to your family member 1,000 miles away? You can do it in seconds, for free, no matter what bank she uses.
Also, the most recent price drop represents exactly what ideologues love about an independent currency. There's no all-powerful central bank tinkering with its value and potentially inflating it, killing your savings.
Peter Vessenes, a leading member of the advocacy-focused Bitcoin Foundation, said that Bitcoin will ultimately emerge stronger after this challenging time for the currency.
"Anything that cleans out bad actors from the Bitcoin system is good for Bitcoin," he said.