It was yet another piece of bad Bitcoin news: BitInstant Chief Executive Officer Charlie Shrem was arrested by federal agents Sunday and charged with using Bitcoin in a money-laundering scheme connected to the now-defunct Silk Road illegal drug website.
Ever since it started to get attention from mainstream media, Bitcoin has been unfairly saddled with a reputation for being nothing more than a high-tech tool for illegal activities.
Most Bitcoin news stories written over the past couple of years have prominently mentioned the use of the digital currency on Silk Road to buy and sell illegal drugs. Federal agents shut down that website in October.
Making matters worse (and more than slightly ironic) is that the 24-year-old Shrem is vice-chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, a trade group dedicated to promoting the legitimacy of Bitcoin.
The arrest of Shrem has put those negative associations with Bitcoin back in the spotlight. But Bitcoin news like this is just a distraction from the digital currency's real potential to disrupt and improve electronic payment systems.
why Bitcoin is going to be such a huge deal...
Ten Bitcoin Facts That Are Stranger Than Fiction
Just about everything that has to do with the digital currency Bitcoin is at least a little odd.
But there are some Bitcoin facts that are truly bizarre - things that could only happen in the universe of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin, which exists entirely in cyberspace, has attracted a lot of attention in recent months as the Bitcoin price has soared from less than $200 in September to more than $1,200 at the end of November. The world's leading "altcurrency" is trading for about $800 now.
It doesn't get much crazier than this...