The price of Bitcoin has been buoyed by increased interest from places like Venezuela, where the local currency has lost much of its value, and India, where the government recently removed the largest cash notes from circulation.

More broadly, a tilt toward isolationism that has emerged in American and European politics -- highlighted by Donald J. Trump's election victory -- has given a new sheen to a currency that can move between countries with little oversight.

"The more there is an expectation for new barriers to be erected, the more there is an expectation that Bitcoin will be valuable for moving money across borders," said Gil Luria, the director of research at Wedbush Securities.


In recent days, the price of a Bitcoin has been about 3 percent higher on [Chinese] exchanges than on dollar denominated exchanges, suggesting more demand in China than outside.

The importance of speculators suggests that the value of Bitcoin is still driven by the hope of how it might be used someday, rather than real world use today, which has generally been hard to quantify.


Many Bitcoin businesses have wanted to edit the basic Bitcoin software to change the number of transactions that can move through the network every day. But the proposed changes have run into opposition from the team of coders responsible for maintaining the basic Bitcoin software. Many Chinese Bitcoin companies have sided with the coders.

That disagreement has led to slowdowns on the Bitcoin network, with some transactions taking days to be processed. The slowdowns have made it harder to use Bitcoin for everyday payments.

But through the controversy the security of the basic Bitcoin wallets and transaction software has held up, making it a potential alternative for people in countries with less secure currencies and financial institutions.

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