For years, bitcoin buffs who were questioned by skeptics about the value of the cryptocurrency would respond by saying: Just wait.

Wait until inflation hits, and people look to park their savings in a stable digital asset that won’t lose its value. Wait until war breaks out, and authoritarians start seizing assets and imposing capital controls on their citizens. Wait until big banks and tech companies start censoring dissidents for their political views. Then you’ll see why we need a stateless, decentralized, anonymous digital currency.

More than most cryptocurrencies, bitcoin was seen by many of its libertarian-leaning fans as a kind of doomsday insurance, a form of "digital gold” that would be a source of stability as the world grew more chaotic and unpredictable.