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The Bitcoin Bubble: Deciphering Digital Currency46:23
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With guest host Sacha Pfeiffer

The skyrocketing price of Bitcoin, and the appeal of alternative currencies.

In this Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 photo, Jon Rumion, background left, talks with Michael Cargill at Central Texas Gun Works, in Austin, Texas. Rumion purchased two guns at the store using bitcoin. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 photo, Jon Rumion, background left, talks with Michael Cargill at Central Texas Gun Works, in Austin, Texas. Rumion purchased two guns at the store using bitcoin. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

If you bought a thousand dollars’ worth of Bitcoin in 2010, you’d be a multimillionaire today. Alternative digital currencies like Bitcoin were once on the fringe of finance. But they’re gradually gaining acceptance. There’s also Litecoin, Ethereum, Zcash, and others. So-called cryptocurrency has been associated with online crime, but it’s being embraced by some major retailers and investment firms. This hour On Point: the appeal of alternative currencies. -- Sacha Pfeiffer

Guests

Paul Vigna, author of "The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and the Blockchain Are Challenging the Global Economic Order." Reporter for the Wall Street Journal, editor of the Journal’s MoneyBeat blog. (@paulvigna)

Felix Salmon, senior editor at Fusion. (@felixsalmon)

Ben Lee, digital cryptocurrency enthusiast. CEO and co-founder of the mobile app development company Neon Roots. (@BenLeeNR)

From The Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Why Bitcoin Is Surging, Again, Up 130% This Year — "Bitcoin traded above $2,200 on Monday, according to the news and research website CoinDesk. That was up about 9% on the day and more than 15% from Friday’s closing price of $1,913, which itself was a fresh high. Bitcoin is up more than 130% this year alone, and about 397% from one year ago."

Felix Salmon: The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency — "There are a couple of reasons why the bubble is sure to burst. The first is just that it’s a bubble, and any chart which looks like the one at the top of this post is bound to end in tears at some point. But there’s a deeper reason, too — which is that bitcoins are an uncomfortable combination of commodity and currency. The commodity value of bitcoins is rooted in their currency value, but the more of a commodity they become, the less useful they are as a currency."

Forbes: The Rise And Fall Of Bitcoin (And The New Kid On The Blockchain) — "Nobody is denying that bitcoin was disruptive. It was the first cryptocurrency of its time and has made a humongous splash – and that’s putting it lightly. Every super-government tried to shut it down and none of them could. J.P. Morgan tried to file patents for the exact technology of bitcoin and failed. Bitcoin is (or was) the cool kid at school that everyone wanted to be friends with but no one was sure how to ask for their number."

This program aired on June 1, 2017.

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