While there are some places where you can spend bitcoin, many people just hang on to them, like you would with other long-term investments. The price volatility of bitcoin makes it difficult to transact day-to-day purchases — though a handful of crypto-powered debit and credit cards are beginning to change that.
Is all of this legal?
Short, qualified answer: Yes, for now, as long as — like any currency — you don’t do illegal things with it. For instance, bitcoin was the sole currency accepted on Silk Road, the Dark Web marketplace for drugs and other illicit goods and services that was shuttered by the FBI in 2013.
Since then, bitcoin has largely evaded regulation and law enforcement in the US, although it’s under increased scrutiny as it attracts the mainstream attention of institutional investors. Though it’s legal to buy and sell bitcoin, many aspects of the industry, such as tax concerns for investors, still occupy a gray area that could be vulnerable to future regulation and/or law enforcement action.