NEW YORK — Long off the public radar, digital payment network bitcoin has been gaining momentum this fall, bolstering the views of some advocates that bitcoins will be a mainstream currency worldwide in the not-too-distant future.
The value of a bitcoin surged to more than $400 last week from its low this year of $177.28 in mid-January. Meanwhile, the technology known as blockchain that underlies bitcoin trading is slowly being adopted for uses far removed from currency.
Analysts also are getting more bullish on the bitcoin system.
“We believe bitcoin and its associated blockchain technology have the potential to disrupt the existing financial infrastructure over the next several years, and believe the value of the bitcoin currency will benefit from this trend,” Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, wrote in a research report last week.
For the last three years, the virtual currency has struggled with wild price fluctuations that hit more than $1,100, a murky regulatory status and its use on the Internet’s dark side, including drug sales.