By Aaron Pressman
April 13, 2018

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Bitcoin is fizzling. The only question is why it ever popped in the first place.

The Wall Street Journal lists the multiple data points that bolster the argument of the cryptocurrency’s diminished importance. Its “value” is down from nearly $20,000 to around $8,000. Web searches for the term “bitcoin” have shriveled. A popular app for trading bitcoin once was popular in Apple’s App Store; Now it barely ranks. A bitcoin investor told The Journal he felt like his cryptocurrency investments were a joke, as if he’d invested in comic books or baseball cards.

Baseball cards have not been a great investment, but they might hold value better than bitcoin.
Photo credit: Kris Connor/Getty Images

In fact, copies of Richie Rich or a 1970s Lou Brock card make a hell of a lot more sense than a digital currency that barely can be used to buy anything and has no intrinsic value. What’s alarming about the swift fall of bitcoin is how little time it was up. Cryptocurrencies have their theoretical place. The digital “ledger” technology that underlies them, blockchain, holds even more promise. But the bidding up and down of a worthless currency by speculators who had no idea what they were investing in has all the hallmarks of an investment scam.

Comparisons already are being drawn to dot-com stocks of 20 years ago. The thing is, those securities were based on companies, flimsy though they were, that dutifully filed their financial results with U.S. regulators and exchanges. Years after the bubble burst savvy investors made money on their remnants, precisely because there was some underlying value to them, even if it was only the cash on their balance sheets.

Will bitcoin bottom out and be worth something to someone? Maybe. For now, comics might be the better bet.

Adam Lashinsky
@adamlashinsky
adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

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