The public perception of the digital currency industry is a vital part of its ability to grow, prosper and gain users. For a long time, many detractors of the concept of digital currency and those seeking to delegitimize the very idea of a currency outside the control of the traditional financial construct, have used the idea that Bitcoin is the domain of the criminal, used for illegitimate means to push that attempt. A recent report by researchers has thrown a more accurate light on what Bitcoin actually is used for by careful analysis of transactions. The results show that the vast majority of all business conducted in the digital currency, just as with the fiat system, is legal and consists of normal payments for products and services.
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From its very early days, Bitcoin, and by association the cryptocurrency industry itself, has struggled with an image problem. The problem has been that due to a few incidents, which the media have largely latched onto and created the public perception, where Bitcoin was used for activities that skirted the law or were downright illegal. This has never been the focus of either the industry or the majority of Bitcoin users of course, but situation such as the Silk Road website that primarily used bitcoin as its currency for illegal trade, had very quickly been turned into some standard bearer for the kind of activity that digital currency is for. It has long been notable that the response from the industry to such accusations was to ignore it and hope that eventually it would die down.
Whether this was the right way to deal with a bad situation (Silk Road) that was ballooned into a poor public image for the industry through some of the reporting on the subject is unclear, but by and large the digital currency industry and Bitcoin have weathered that storm and moved on with improved image and public perception. Would it have taken less time were the initial linking the currency with crime challenged more? That is something we will never know, but research into Bitcoin recently showed that it really is a thing of the past and that Bitcoin now is a very different thing indeed, as is the industry it spawned.
Researchers from the Central Bank of Germany, University College London and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have released a paper that looks into the various transactions occurring through Bitcoin over a period of time. The results show Bitcoin itself is mainly being used for legitimate commerce, payments and services, and that statements suggesting the digital currency is being used for illegal activities are overstating the situation, Indeed, the report suggests that as Bitcoin continues to grow, any such activity will be diminished further.
While the industry has established an improved public perception over time, especially in terms of the uses of blockchain, the paper is incredibly important for those within the industry to combat those who continue to fight against the idea of a cryptocurrencies by using past incidents as proof of a problem today. In that context, the digital currency industry has taken another step in its journey to maturity and wider acceptance.