But BTC China's recent setback sent Bitcoin's value plunging, as other governments around the world have offered varying levels of support for it. In recent weeks, authorities in New Zealand, Denmark and the European Union have all issued warnings against the technology and have questioned its viability. Consumers are not protected through regulation when using virtual currencies as a means of payment and may be at risk of losing their money, the European Banking Authority said in a statement.
Given these concerns and the volatility, it could become harder for startups to raise money, and the investments are riskier too, one expert said.
Earlier in the year, the feeling among some investors was that they had hit something big, "but hype alone isn't good enough anymore," said Mark Williams, a finance professor at Boston University who has been tracking Bitcoin. "The honeymoon is over," he said.
In the venture capital world, timing is everything. Had China blocked BTC China's deposits two months earlier, "VC funding would have been more difficult to land," Williams said.
Increased regulation, oversight and restrictions are also fundamentally at odds with one of Bitcoin's primary purposes -- to be a currency free of any central authority. And if the red tape makes it harder to get hold of bitcoins, that could reduce the profit opportunities for startups. Consumers will be less likely to buy something with BitPay, for example, if they don't have any bitcoins to buy it with.
Therefore, startups may now face more pressure to demonstrate to VC firms that their investments will pay off, Williams said.
Meanwhile, Bitcoin may or may not be a proxy for virtual currencies overall, which could also affect how much funding startups can get in the new year. Views differ on Bitcoin's role.
"Bitcoin is the standard bearer for the fledgling e-currency industry," Boston University's Williams said. "The success or failure of Bitcoin will have a ripple effect on the many startups anticipating an e-currency revolution. ... Bitcoin's success is their success."
The investor community, however, might see things differently. They're not investing in the Bitcoin currency so much as in its underlying infrastructure, which could serve other virtual currencies in the future, said Barry Silbert, an active angel investor in the industry. So if Bitcoin fails, it may not even matter to them, or to the startups.
Startups' biggest challenge right now is getting more banks on their side, according to Silbert, founder of the Bitcoin Investment Trust, a private fund for handling Bitcoin investments. "Price volatility is a distraction to VC firms," he said.
But others still see plenty of froth next year. Like Heineken, for example. "Our vision of the future?" the Dutch brewing company posted this week on Twitter, "Drink real beer, pay with virtual money." They didn't mention any virtual hangovers, though.