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Top Technology Fails of 2014

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This was supposed to be Bitcoin’s big year. Instead, the electronic currency looks as if it may be stalling. The value of a bitcoin has dropped by 62 percent (to about $310) since January 2014, but potentially more troubling for the currency, it’s being used to move only about as much cash as it was a year ago,about $60 million a day. The idea of Bitcoin remains intriguing—a peer-to-peer currency with no central controller, instantly transmitted anywhere, and powered by a clever cryptographic engine. But in practice, it is more like a Ponzi scheme that attracts speculators, and it’s become the payment form of choice among professional cybercriminals. Bitcoin also suffers from a headache linked to its first killer app—as an easy way to buy drugs online. Authorities this year have continued to make arrests, and in November, the U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off 50,000 bitcoins, worth about $19 million, seized from drug dealers.

Bitcoin has passionate advocates. But a currency that few people use can’t be called a success.

(See “Marginally Useful.”)

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