As the value of bitcoin declines, the computer systems supporting the blockchain are struggling to profit. The network of miners has 13,000 times more computing power than that of the world’s 500 largest supercomputers combined. A perceived minning crisis is one reason for the latest decline in the currency's value.
The virtual currency, which trades mostly in unregulated overseas markets, has fallen 44% since the start of the year and 85% from the record high of $1,165 it hit in early December 2013. In total, almost $11.3 billion in value has been lost since that peak. “The people who most believed in the long-term value of bitcoin holdings are the people who got hurt the most,” said Chase Sechrist, a 22-year software developer based in Austin, Texas, who sunk $30,000, or “most of his savings,” into the digital currency, starting “at the top of the summer 2014 hype cycle.” Having lost virtually all of it, Mr. Sechrist says he’ll “be out of bitcoin for quite a while,” at least until it is better regulated, though he still strongly believes in the future benefits of its core payments technology.