In a survey report published by the World Economic Forum, titled “Deep Shift Technology Tipping Points and Societal Impact,” respondents were polled about tipping points related to technology and when they thought they would occur.
According to the survey, Robots and Services are expected to occur in 2021, 3D Printing and Human Health expected in 2023 and Driverless Cars in 2026. These were all ahead of Bitcoin and Blockchain, which the respondents think would only be a tipping point in 2027.
The poll further suggests that the tipping point would occur when 10 percent of global domestic product (GDP) was capable of being stored on Blockchain technology.
Maybe the future of Bitcoin is elsewhere
We know from Blockchain.info that between January 2016 and December 2016 the number of Bitcoin transactions ranged between approximately 125,000 to 330,000.
While this shows that there are people actually using Bitcoin as a currency, is it really that many? Compare that with SWIFT traffic between October 2015 and 2016 which saw a year-over-year growth of 7.8 percent and scored 26.04 mln FIN messages per day in October 2016 alone!
Advisor to Wings.ai, Dominik Zynis, states with regards to the issue of the mainstream adoption of Bitcoin (BTC) :
“Not sure though that BTC is meant to be for people, I always thought the use case was more interesting for app to app, machine to machine, app to machine (thing to thing?) compensation. For example, a national weather service and other weather services might open up payment channels to thermostats around the country to gather data.”
We discussed before what inhibits Bitcoin’s mainstream adoption. Sometimes it is hard for some technological ideas to go mainstream. Even great concepts can struggle but that does not mean they should be abandoned – maybe they can be made more acceptable using other means.
It may be so that Bitcoin is up against a wall that it can never go past and the time has come to explore ways so that the sound technology behind Bitcoin, that is the Blockchain, can be used in everyday life by common everyday people.
Possibly even the Bitcoin Blockchain itself has such uses. We are seeing a shift towards that line of thought.
Bitcoin in disguise
Maybe a way of getting people to use Bitcoin is serving it up as a disguised product. That is what many Bitcoin companies are doing now.
Wired quoted Jeremy Allaire of Circle, a company that had initially wanted to take Bitcoin mainstream, as saying:
“When we founded this company three years ago, the vision was never to build a Bitcoin company.” In a blog post on their website on Dec. 6, Circle declared:
“Circle is now more than ever, not a consumer Bitcoin exchange, and we will continue to focus resources on global social payments and future next-generation Blockchain technology rather than devoting those resources to supporting the buying and selling of Bitcoins directly.”
The plan now, according to the same blog post, is to allow Circle customers who hold Bitcoin instead of fiat currencies to convert their Bitcoin to currencies like euros, dollars or pounds and then withdraw to a linked card or bank account. However, they can’t reconvert back to Bitcoin.
Circle hasn’t abandoned the use of Bitcoin as a “settlement token” and “network behind the scenes” but it does raise the question of whether Bitcoin has had its day as a currency or if some Bitcoin firms are now sugarcoating Bitcoin and letting people use fiat on the front end while using Bitcoin merely as a protocol.
Then there is the curious case of Coinbase, an American Bitcoin company that is having an identity crisis of its own. The Co-Founder of Coinbase Brian Armstrong blogged about how they want to get out of the wallet business altogether and focus on being “a retail and institutional exchange.”
Perhaps the concerns there were more about changing the nature of the business and moving away from Bitcoin after their recent run-in with the tax authorities in the United States. One can only speculate on the fluidity shown by Coinbase.
Twists and turns and compromise
The question is, what prompts companies to stop using Bitcoin as a currency and to disguise its usage?
It may have something to do with the notorious reputation that the cryptocurrency has acquired over the years due to the many “scandals” like Silk Road or Mt. Gox.
It can also simply be a means to egg people on to try something they would not really use otherwise by sugarcoating it and hiding it in the background as the cases of Circle and Coinbase demonstrate.
Possibly it could even be to use the great public Blockchain infrastructure that Bitcoin already provides. However, it does not mean that Bitcoin is losing its usability or its sheen as a currency. Maybe people are just opting for a sensible middle ground.
As Kumar Gaurav, co-founder of Cashaa.com, concludes: “It is standard with any new product or service in the market when it has limited demand. We have a challenge to solve that demand will drive supply or supply will create awareness and demand. The average consumer does not like to understand technology; they need an application which directly relates to theirs needs. Take an example of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the majority of people using Google for various reasons have no idea what is AI. Due to the currently existing system, Bitcoin has a long way to go before going mainstream as currency. Meanwhile, we have to build products which bridge or layer the complexity and deliver solutions which directly satisfy users need.”