bitcoin investment cryptocurrency economy internet
Investment in bitcoin startups has outpaced investment in internet companies in the technology's early yearsCC

The growth of bitcoin in terms of investment is outpacing that of the early stage internet by almost 25%, according to the latest figures.

Venture capitalist investment in bitcoin startups is projected to be $786m (£506m) in 2015, compared with $639m in internet companies in 1996.

Data gathered by CoinDesk and PriceewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the State of Bitcoin Q2 2015 report also revealed investment in bitcoin startups will double year-on-year from 2014.

The venture capital funding includes the $116m raised by the San Francisco-based 21 Inc in March, the most ever by a startup in the cryptocurrency sector.

Lead investor Marc Andreessen from Andreessen Horowitz said at the time that bitcoin was similar to the internet in its early years, as it is a "fringe technology" with "fringe characters" and "fringe politics".

Andreessen said: "In 1994, as a venture capital firm, it would have been a good idea to take the internet seriously and it would have been a good idea to invest in a cross-section of [internet] companies."

Other notable bitcoin startup funding rounds in 2015 included $50m in Circle, $28m in Ripple Labs and $75m in bitcoin wallet provider Coinbase.

This is the second year in a row that investment in bitcoin firms has outpaced the early stage internet and if it follows the same trajectory, venture capital investment could surpass $2bn in 2016.

According to figures from PwC, internet companies raised $1.88bn from venture capital investments in 1997.

Other findings from the State of Bitcoin report included how bitcoin's improved stability is driving its use as a currency, with price volatility down 84%.

Despite this, the number of merchants accepting bitcoin is slowing and interest from consumers remains below 50%.