The value of bitcoin may be up by 250 percent so far in 2017, but according to Morgan Stanley more people should be spending it rather than hoarding it as the number of online merchants accepting it falls.

According to a research note released by a group of analysts at the leading global financial services firm, led by James Faucette, they wrote:

Bitcoin acceptance is virtually zero and shrinking.

The group found that while the number of top merchants accepting bitcoin as a form of payment was five in 2016, this year that number had dropped to three, reports Business Insider.

The main reason for the decline was a rise in the digital currency’s value, which subsequently saw more people holding it as a form of investment rather than a payment choice.

The notes add:

The ecosystem has focused more on value speculation rather than the foot-leather-eating work of increasing acceptance – way easier to trade speculatively than convince new merchants to accept the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin’s Value Grows

It’s understandable why many bitcoin holders are keen to hold on to their coins. In June, the price of the digital currency soared to $3,000 for the first time in its history while the market value of the currency has jumped to $40 billion over seven years.

Not only that, but many speculators claim that the price of bitcoin is set to continuing increasing in the long-term. One analyst has said that in a few months the cryptocurrency could reach $5,000. While a Saxo Bank analyst has predicted that the unit price of the digital currency may soar to $100,000 in 10 years time.

With such a bright future expected from the cryptocurrency it’s clear to see why many investors want to hold on to the coins that they hold.

Sweeping Mainstream Acceptance

One country that is not seeing a drop in the number of merchants accepting bitcoin is Japan. By the end of the year it’s expected that the country will see around 300,000 stores accepting the digital currency as a form of payment. This follows the legal recognition of the currency in Japan, which took shape in April.

Despite the country’s past with the now-defunct digital currency exchange Mt Gox, the move to legalize the cryptocurrency highlights the growing popularity of it in Japan.

So, even though online merchants may be dropping bitcoin from their payment options, in Japan it’s witnessing renewed interest which is producing an influx of investors.

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