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Jay Best walked into the Thelonious Monkfish restaurant in Cambridge with no intention of paying for his sushi rolls with cash or a credit card. Best planned to settle the tab with bitcoin, a virtual currency. But when he pulled out his smartphone to calculate the bill, Best was dismayed to discover the value of a bitcoin had plummeted from $266 the day before, to below $80. Suddenly, old-fashioned cash seemed more appealing.
For bitcoin users, such volatility has become the norm. At the start of 2013, a single bitcoin was going for $15. After zooming past $200 over several months, the currency tumbled to about $50 less than a week later. Since then, it’s once again climbed, and as of Monday was valued at $142.