Bitcoin and Business: Can Cryptocurrency Really Become More Mainstream?
When it was first launched back in 2009, Bitcoin was new, innovative, the first foray into the introduction of the concept known as ‘cryptocurrency’. For the first few months and even years, this was something of niche concept. Not only was it not used by many, but it was also seen as something people speculatively invested in, rather than being any sort of genuine currency it the more traditional sense. Was this ever going to take off in the real world of buying and selling, or would it merely be another trading and investing choice for people looking to make a wider addition to their investment portfolio?
It was not there for purchasing goods and services, it was something viewed as a novelty for investors, albeit a profitable one at times. As the idea, the concept of cryptocurrencies started to nestle more within the consciousness of investors, it became more widely seen as a form of exchange within the global markets. For those who have kept up with the history of bitcoin, it had a slow start and, even now, has something of a chequered reputation to some people.
Beyond generating profits within the investment market, bitcoin was the start of the cryptocurrency evolution and, perhaps, revolution. With more governments discussing, openly, the idea of a central digital currency, it can perhaps be argued that bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, are already mainstream. That said, how widely is it used and what are the limitations?
Cryptocurrency Emerges: From Trading Markets to Housing Markets
When I first heard about cryptocurrency in 2009, it was something of a concept that went over my head. Whether it is the FTSE, the NY Stock Exchange or other trading floors around the world, it did not make an immediate impact. Transactions, Bitcoin Units, Blocks, Mining and more, all concepts that were part of this new cryptocurrency but meant nothing to those outside the company that introduced it.
As a currency, it started off in a volatile manner and, to some degree, still has a certain amount of market instability. That is not to say, however, that cryptocurrencies are not infiltrating the mainstream or being used in ‘real world’ transactions. According to official records, the very first transaction within that so-called real world happened in May 2010, for a pizza delivery of all things.
Even with this first introduction to mainstream usage, the rise of bitcoin usage was gradual rather than accelerated or exponential. As an innovative technology, it was not adopted by many, in part due to its images as something of a trading toy for the rich or geeky. Now, however, more companies, online platforms and institutions are embracing the evolution of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, bringing it further into both mainstream discussion as well as mainstream usage.
As mentioned before, even governments in many countries are now openly discussing the concept of introducing a central digital currency, showing how far we have come. By 2023, Bitcoin, and the overall landscape for cryptocurrency was prosperous, having survived the various vicissitudes that it suffered in the years since it was introduced, but does that mean it will become even more used, even more common, even more valuable, and will central digital currencies be the route that this takes?
Central Digital Currencies Could Be Key for Bitcoin
With everyone from the UK to the US, Canada to Australia and beyond discussion the reality of a central digital currency run by their respective centralised and existing banking institutions, the rise of the cryptocurrency concept could become truly mainstream, whether people want it or not.
Blockchain technology is now firmly entrenched in the IT world, with AI now becoming the latest and greatest innovation, seemingly signalling that cryptocurrencies are also here to stay. Even now, real estate transactions are officially being recorded as being paid by Bitcoin transactions, something that was simply not conceivable back in 2009.
Within this realm, Bitcoin still survives, with many experts predicting that it will enjoy a resurgence as the mainstream retail world embraces it more, and as central digital banking eventually becomes a reality. When you can find a site that literally buys and sells homes with bitcoin, it has already started this journey, one which looks to be ongoing and resurgent rather than historic and slowing.
To those who may remain sceptical, the idea of a society that makes more transactions with contactless and online payments that cold hard cash also seemed to be something from the annuls of science fiction a couple of decades ago, but here we are in that situation in the 21st century. With the US Federal Reserve actively looking at the potential of digital currencies, and some smaller nations already having introduced them (Jamaica is one example), bitcoin becoming genuinely mainstream does seem to be a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.