Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase, a start-up that helps merchants accept bitcoin and helps consumers obtain it by exchanging traditional currencies, said he thought the demise of Silk Road gave entrepreneurs and investors more confidence in bitcoin. "The bad guys basically lost," said Mr. Ehrsam, whose start-up has raised over $6 million from Union Square Ventures and others. "It took the single most illegitimate player in the space and wiped them off the map."

"Bitcoin definitely addresses a need," said Simon Johnson, a professor at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management. "The payments industry is ready to be disrupted."

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