Would you be surprised to learn that cryptocurrency has been around for over twenty years? Thanks to the cryptocurrency work of David Chaum in the 80s and 90s, the idea of digital cash and using blind signatures for untraceable payments helped pave the way as cryptocurrency as we know it. Despite the advancements that have been made over the years, cryptocurrency like bitcoin, has yet to be embraced by the general public.
However, digital cash is going to be the next big thing for the payments industry the very near future. Because of that, it’s time for everyone to start jumping on the bandwagon. But, before that can happen we need to get the average person on-board. And, that can be accomplished by doing the following.
Provide More Education
The biggest obstacle holding cryptocurrency back from going mainstream is a lack of awareness and misconception associated with virtual currency. In fact, a study conducted by research firm GfK and The Street found that “three-quarters of U.S. residents are not familiar with bitcoin, and nearly 80% wouldn’t even consider using it.” Add in the nefarious connotations, such as using cryptocurrencies to complete black market transactions, and it’s easy-to-understand why people are reluctant to embrace the payment system.
So, how do we educate the general public on what exactly digital currency is, why it’s valuable, and address those misconceptions?
This most obvious place to start is by having early adopters and evangelists publicly discuss cryptocurrencies and why they’re beneficial – or at least spark the public’s curiosity. For example, bitcoin enthusiast Mark “Fidel” Hale and a former Thunderbird pilot take the ‘Bitcoin Jet’ to air shows around the country where people can hop in and a take ride.
Evangelists like Roger Ver, Andreas Antonopoulos, and Wences Casares need to keep discussing how revolutionary this technology is by writing articles and speaking at industry events. Additionally, more familiar cryptocurrency supporters like Bill Gates and Ashton Kutcher need to keep drumming up support as well.
Easier to Obtain and Use
Trying to get your hands on crypto currency like bitcoins can be a hassle – especially if you’re not familiar with the ecosystem. Besides education, this could be the best way in helping cryptocurrency to go mainstream.
Currently there are a number of startups and businesses that attempting to make this a reality. For starters, you can download a game like Flappy Cash onto your smartphone and earn bitcoins simply by playing the game. On top of that, companies and merchants also need to start integrating cryptocurrencies onto their platforms or creating user-friendly wallets. Circle and Coinmotion are just two examples of companies offering payment wallets on their or on the App Store and Google Play.
Another way to spread the awareness of cryptocurrency and making it easier to use is by having more businesses accept them as a form of currency. Currently, there a number of businesses who are accepting virtual currencies like bitcoin. These include Overstock.com, Amazon, Target, CVS, Expedia, Subway, Zappos, and Whole Foods. As this list continues to grow, the more accepted cryptocurrencies will become.
On top of business adoption, major universities are also jumping on board. Students on the campus of universities like MIT, New York University, Duke, and the Imperial College in London accept bitcoin payments to purchase anything from coffee to textbooks.
However, if you really want to see cryptocurrencies take off, traditional POS systems at restaurants, gas stations, and other brick and mortar shops, will have to start accepting cryptocurrencies. Coinify, BitPay, and Blockchain Merchant have all developed POS apps for offline retailers.
Secure the Ecosystem
Another concern that people have concerning cryptocurrency is security. Over the years we’ve all heard the tales of digital assets and currencies getting lost, stolen, or hacked. While there are some general security measures that users could implement, the industry as a whole is going to have work on securing the entire ecosystem. Whether that’s teaming up with a security company, like Symbiont recently did with Gemalto, or working on developing stronger security features. Companies like Ledger Wallet have accomplished this by creating a physical bitcoin wallet.
Protection Against Volatility
As JP Buntinx says in The Merkle,
“When it comes to holding Bitcoin as a consumer, there is no direct need to protect against volatility. If the end user wants to protect their digital currency wealth from volatility, they would be better off converting the funds to fiat currency immediately. There are plenty of Bitcoin exchanges available. Furthermore, selling funds through a Bitcoin ATM is also possible.”
For the average person, however, there is no such protection unless they use a third-party. A company like Coinapult is providing such a service.
In the future, however, digital currency could become more stable thanks to friction (the more using digital currency the less likely there will be wild price swings), colored coins, and self-stabilizing coins.
Finally, businesses and merchants are going to have to give the public a reason to start using cryptocurrencies. The easiest way to accomplish this is by offering customers coupons, discounts, or rewards at their favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or online merchant.