Bitcoin, the best-known of the upstart digital currencies, is still a mystery to many Americans.
If you've heard about Bitcoin, it's mainly from startling headlines about its 400 percent price gain earlier this year or its surge to nearly $5,000 last month, making it the the most valuable player in the mushrooming space for so-called cryptocurrencies. Or because Wall Street skeptics call it a "fad," a "fraud" and a "speculative bubble."
Believers in Bitcoin say it's the money of the future, a digital alternative to the dollar or euro or yen. Non-believers say it's not real money. After all, you can't dig into your pocket and pull one out like a $10 bill and hand it to a cashier at Dunkin' Donuts to pay for your morning coffee.
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Some investment pros say it's a new asset class, no different from a stock, a bond or an ounce of gold and that it has great investment promise. Skeptics say it's not an investment because there's no good way to value it.