It is now seven years since bitcoin launched and we first saw the possibilities of a digital currency. Since then much has been written about both Bitcoin itself and the cryptocurrency industry and how it could make inroads into a wider user base. There has been progress over that time, making it easier to buy Bitcoins has seen many more people take a look at digital currency, but there has not been the widespread growth many hoped for. Is this it, or is Bitcoin on the verge of becoming a global currency for all?
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It has been talked about almost since Bitcoin first launched in 2009, how it will replace fiat currency for cross border transactions, provide a viable alternative to credit card companies due to lower fees and so on. However, while many talk about what it would mean, if we take a step back and look at the entire industry today, is Bitcoin really close to making that breakthrough to everyday use?
Much has changed in the last seven years, Bitcoin itself has led the way for a variety of digital currencies, and the industry today is very different to the one that barely existed at the turn of the decade. Blockchain has taken off as a versatile platform that can be adapted to many industries and applications, everything from insurance to tracking shipping containers, and while that does bring with it the raising of awareness of both the technology and the industry, does it push people to use bitcoin more often?
The answer is no, and yet Bitcoin has grown significantly, as the industry has matured it has become easier for those outside the industry to obtain Bitcoins. Exchanges and ATMs have provided user friendly ways for anyone to become a Bitcoin owner, and that has broadened the user base considerably, but that alone is not going to see adoption of Bitcoin as a currency in the numbers many in the industry hope for.
So, if making it easier to acquire digital currency is not the solution, what is? The industry has much it can still do over the medium term, raising awareness of Bitcoin and the benefits it can bring. This is helped by the projects using blockchain and can, as it has so far, bring a steady stream of new users. However, there is one situation that would really bring Bitcoin into the forefront of people’s minds, and that is being paid in Bitcoins.
It is not just a dream either, as employment changes and more people than ever are taking the freelancer route working for themselves, the low transaction fees and ease of cross border payments that Bitcoin brings is attractive to a massive number of people. Freelancers working in design, software production, writers and so on who are working for clients right around the world are the ideal candidates for Bitcoin earnings. This is where the growth will really come from, and for many who remain unbanked, who PayPal and similar are not options, a Bitcoin payment solution could be the answer.
There are some efforts in this area, with at least one established Bitcoin payment portal available, however, for the long-term success of Bitcoin, this is where the industry should focus. Making sure that being paid in Bitcoin is convenient, practical and cost efficient for both parties is the key to broad adoption.