Being a newbie to the crypto-blockchain revolution/evolution, I bought my first bitcoin in 2017 and since then it’s been an ever-expanding, fun, and at the same time a little overwhelming, learning experience. I remember reading the directions three times before buying bitcoin on Coinbase and then another three times when I had to transfer it to my wallet!
I wanted to be around other like-minded folks, so I joined a local meetup, Hampton Roads Blockheads (if you are interested in learning more, come check us out!). At the last Virginia Beach meeting at the local Bahama Breeze the conversation shifted to the topic of awareness and getting more people interested, which then led to an impromptu poll of our gracious waitstaff to see if they were familiar with bitcoin and blockchain. Both of them were, but didn’t know anything about it other than anecdotes about Rapper 50 Cent becoming a bitcoin millionaire!
I strongly believe this technology is changing the world and how we interact with it. It is levelling the playing field by giving more control to the individual rather that to a central power, regulatory agency, or bank. You don’t need to give up your right to privacy in order to transact; transaction costs for businesses are lower, and there’s a high degree of efficiency, speed, and security.
What’s not to like, right?
This brings me to my question: If blockchain and cyrptocurrencies are so great then why aren’t more people interested?
The answer is multi-fold.
- New technology can be intimidating. It is not widely understood and therefore not widely trusted. Most people are not technically minded and may require easy-to-understand, non-technical explanations of what the technology is and how it can benefit them. As a member of our meetup group aptly said, “People trust Visa more than bitcoin.” It’s ironic since one of the main tenets of blockchain is that it is trustless meaning you don’t need a trusted third party inserting itself into the transaction.
- The security blanket is gone. Interacting with blockchain puts more control, and therefore more responsibility, with the individual. If you forget your login with your bank, no problem –just reset your password; if your bank fails, your deposits are protected up to $250,000. But that’s not the case if the coins you left on the crypto-exchange get hacked, or if you forget your password or seed phrase, or lose your keys. Just learning to buy altcoins (cryptocurrency) and set up wallets is not as user friendly as making a typical bank transaction. Not every exchange has every coin and not every wallet supports every coin.
- Stability is needed for mainstream adoption. People need to see how cryptocurrencies and blockchain affect their day-to-day lives, but we won’t get to that point until we have stability. Remember in 2010 when someone bought 2 Papa John pizzas for 10,000 BTC (bitcoin)? That’s about $75.2 million in today’s prices! The crypto market is crazy-volatile and therefore not the best choice to use for everyday transactions.
Yes, there are some things to work through, but think about this: Institutional investors, banks, and major corporations are investing in this technology.
- The NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) purchased a stake in Coinbase.
- Goldman Sachs, via its subsidiary Circle, purchased the exchange Poloniex.
- Walmart is using blockchain to track produce and reduce waste.
- Maersk is using blockchain to track cargo.
- Pfizer and Genentech are using blockchain to weed out counterfeit drugs.
- British Airways is using blockchain to eliminate late flights and lost baggage.
Remember the internet in the 1990’s and how it’s progressed to the ‘Internet of Things’ today? You don’t need to go back in time and speculate on what you would do differently because we are in similar situation today. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are still in their early days and I would encourage you to learn more!