If it ever becomes mainstream, the virtual currency bitcoin could streamline sales of everything from homes to illicit drugs. While bitcoin has generated considerable excitement — to which the real estate industry is not immune — it’s also vulnerable to volatility and regulatory crackdowns.

Total bitcoin transactions since March 2012

bitcoin_transactions_frbc

Those factors appear to be limiting adoption, with bitcoin transactions appearing to have flattened at about 60,000 a day — hardly a blip compared to credit card transactions.

Bitcoin, “despite their high profile and relatively high value, still make up only a small portion of the value of U.S. currency. And as a fraction of all payments in the world, it is even less,” notes Joseph Haubrich, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. “It’s perhaps too early to assess the future of bitcoin, but in terms of number of transactions, total value and even price stability, it is not currently a major competitor of the U.S. dollar.” Source: clevelandfed.org.

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