Every time something causes the world’s markets to tremble—like on Thursday’s Brexit when the UK voted to exit the European Union—people buy gold. It’s a longstanding tradition, based on the belief that if some markets stumble, humanity can always agree on something that’s for so long been universally accepted as valuable. Gold is historically and perpetually stable.
But increasingly, investors also turn to another commodity when things get shaky: bitcoin, the internet’s favorite cryptocurrency. When Cyprus’s economy crashed in 2013, putting the country into such turmoil that it kept its citizens from even being allowed to move cash out of the country, bitcoin spiked. In the summer of 2015, when China’s yuan was in a free fall, the country gobbled up gold—but it increasingly turned to bitcoin, as well.
That happened again Friday after the Brexit, when most markets and currencies tanked, but bitcoin’s value rose more than $100 from the day before. Not only did bitcoin’s price and trade volume spike, but people in the UK specifically sought out to buy bitcoin in bigger numbers. “Our website traffic and customer registrations remain higher than normal today—consistent with the last few weeks,” Molly Spiers, spokesperson