Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are rising in value and finding their way into investors’ portfolios despite regulators being slow to consider their impact. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDRE FRANCOIS MCKENZIE/ UNSPLASH

WILMINGTON – While most Americans continue to use tried-and-true dollar bills to pay for goods and services, a growing number of institutions, investors and academics are studying whether that paper currency will become a thing of the past.

Cryptocurrency, or secure, traceable digital currency like the leading Bitcoin, has become a hot topic on Wall Street and among bankers worldwide. It’s an entirely intangible asset, meaning you won’t find stacks of “coins” stored away in a vault, but proponents argue that all countries now utilize intrinsic fiat currency. The United States was the last nation to drop all parts of the gold standard in the ‘70s.

Tangible or not, Bitcoin’s value has spiked from about $5,000 per coin a year ago to more than $55,000 as of March 10. Its total market value crossed $1 trillion for the first time this year. A March client survey by Goldman Sachs showed that 40% of respondents held cryptocurrency and nearly two-thirds of them expected to invest more in the next two years.

With those retail gains, more of corporate America is coming around to the idea, and even investing large sums of reserves in cryptocurrency.