Security, education, ease-of-use, and momentum are the main answers given in the recent Founders Grid survey of experts on what is going to drive Bitcoin adoption. In the US, breaking through may be tough. The news, when Bitcoin is talked about at all, is full of hacks, Silk Road, money laundering, claims of a lack of intrinsic value, and just how technical and weird it all is. This is no different than the early internet, but there is also the fact that there will be pushback from industries that stand to lose when Bitcoin succeeds. Bankers are already talking to their partners in government about the need for regulation. They have already made it difficult enough to buy and sell Bitcoin safely, and in Florida it is risky even selling privately. (It is particularly telling that they use the word ‘newfangled’ in the article I linked to here.)
In the rest of the world, we’ll see different kinds of reactions, see Russia’s banning of cryptocurrencies and China’s brief, tragic love affair with it. For some countries, expect the appeal of Bitcoin to be enough for them to try to officially adopt, and watch the World Bank and IMF to apply pressure to stop them.
What this all means is that there is a veil of misinformation around Bitcoin that is going to be difficult to pierce, partly because there are vested interests who will keep putting up the veil. On Bitcoin’s side, though, is momentum. People and businesses are solving the problems with Bitcoin and expanding on its strength. Bitcoin is not just a currency and commodity, its protocol will completely transform how we bank and do business. The future with Bitcoin is unpredictable because we are just figuring it out now.
Below are some of Bitcoin Warrior’s favorite answers to the question “What processes are needed to get the mainstream to adopt Bitcoin.” Are absolute favorite answer comes from Alexander Lawn of KnCMiner, who says that businesses need to pass the savings of using Bitcoin for a purchase on to the consumer. “If you were told you could save 5% on every purchase made using Bitcoin as payment means over the standard electronic payment means, which would you choose?” We agree and are going to start offering free advertising space on Bitcoin Warrior to any business that advertises a discount.
Although we try to keep it positive, we also felt we needed to note our least favorite response, which is from Michal Handerhan of BitcoinShopUS: “The first step for Bitcon to be adopted on the mainstream level is US government’s [sic] stamp of approval.”
J.R. Willett, Founder of Mastercoin responds:
Distributed currency needs to be secure (much harder to steal) and price-stable in order to be useful to the average consumer. Projects such as Mastercoin are solving both of these problems.
Keny, Founder of GetToKnowBitcoin responds:
I think education is key. Explaining how bitcoin works can be confusing and intimidating at times. The early adopters hold the responsibility of helping and educating new bitcoin enthusiasts.
I think it will be important to keep things simple and take the time to answer questions. As bitcoin continues to mature, their will be programs that simplifies it for people as well.
There needs to be a very simplified method for security or perhaps a program/app that keeps bitcoins safe for people automatically.
Wouter Vonk, Founder of Bitgild responds:
In general, my experience with Bitcoin so far is: Everything always happens much faster, then even your most optimistic-realistic expectations would predict. So at this point, the only real “risk” here is, that the free market will come up with an even better solution then Bitcoin.
Aaron Williams, Founder of Atlanta Bitcoin responds:
We’re going to need to see some more changes in the Bitcoin protocol first. Auth/completion type transactions which are used for Fuel, Restaurants, bars, etc will be a huge step in the right direction.
Existing POS systems need to develop capabilities to accept Bitcoin for payments. There are a bunch of new POS systems being developed but the real numbers are going to come when some of the POS systems with a large base of existing customers develops support.
Imagine a merchant being able to just turn on Bitcoin support then see how it impacts their business.
Michael Dunworth, CEO of snapCard responds:
Well outside of the USA and in countries with less fortunate currencies, just give them a way to buy BTC, and they’ll shift towards it. It’s far more attractive than their current financial system.
In the USA and countries with strong currencies, adoption will increase when merchants start passing on the benefits of low transaction fees to the users.
Gabriel Miron, Founder of MEXBT.com responds:
We need digital places where we can buy with Bitcoin and exchange them for Fiat without major impediment. Once we have a decent volume of both, people will start adopting it.
It’s the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to move money in the world. It makes Paypal, Western Union and Credit Cards obsolete… It’s a matter of time.
Mark Norton, from Bitcoin Warrior responds:
The ball is already rolling on this. Overstock now accepts Bitcoin, as do Shopify and Subway Sandwiches: the drumbeat of businesses that accept Bitcoin is getting louder.
What we need for more merchants to accept Bitcoin is more people eager to spend Bitcoin. When business owners see people willing to spend in Bitcoin and begin to understand the advantages they have over credit cards and even cash, you’ll see the avalanche really begin.
One thing to note, though, is that a deflationary currency like Bitcoin has a tendency to cause people to save rather than spend. Paul Krugman has written a lot about that and sees it as Bitcoin’s fatal flaw.
In fact, what we’ve seen is that a spike in price has meant a spike in spending. When the price spikes, people have a tendency to want to enjoy those profits and spend.
That being said, there are also a lot of whales out there sitting on large Bitcoin fortunes. It would be nice to hear about more philanthropy by these folks.
Bill Gates used some of his wealth to buy large numbers of computers for schools. If a Bitcoin millionaire did this, but asked the vendor to accept Bitcoin, it would convert a large company to Bitcoin, put more bitcoin into circulation, put Bitcoin more in the news in a positive light, and convince more people that Bitcoin is something they want to be involved in.
Alan Donohoe, Founder of Bitcoin Association of Ireland responds:
The Bitcoin revolution was started online, and more and more online retailers will increasingly accept it. This will help fuel the growth.
To become mainstream, we are going to need some regulation. That will be a very interesting situation to see how governments will see fit to regulate it.
The law makers around the world we need to seek advice at the highest level in the Bitcoin industry to ensure the worldwide adoption of Bitcoin grow beyond its infancy in the correct manner.
Adrian, Founder of SatoshiBet responds:
Bitcoin is in every way a better solution than what is currently out there to transact money globally, cheap and fast, for even the smallest of transactions. What bitcoin needs is a healthy eco-system of businesses to support the protocol.
There are still so many untapped opportunities for bitcoin, I do believe entrepreneurs will catch up eventually and for every one who does, mainstream adoption will come a little closer.
Vitalik Buterin, Author at Bitcoin Magazine responds:
Banking integration is the main challenge; businesses need ways to integrate Bitcoin efficiently and then immediately sell the bitcoins if they do not want to get exposed to the price volatility.
The other main challenges are regulatory certainty, public relations and providing evidence that there are actually enough consumers willing to spend bitcoins to be worth the risk.
Frank Schuil, CEO of Safello responds:
Most of the necessities to gain mass adoption are already in place or being developed as we speak. Safer exchanges, merchant APIs and mobile apps are all emerging solutions to an inefficient market.
It is a natural progression from Bitcoin as an investment opportunity to a form of currency. The tipping point will be when banks and governments start embracing Bitcoin after a push from established market players.
With Zynga and Overstock trialling bitcoin purchases early 2014, we are off to a very good start.
Elizabeth Ploshay, Manager at Bitcoin Magazine responds:
Individuals need to understand Bitcoin in basic terms and how it truly will benefit the US economy and economies around the world.
One area to dramatically increase the adoption of Bitcoin in the US and other countries will be to get more women involved. Right now approximately 90% of women control household finances in the US.
As more women become informed about Bitcoin, many will want to use it and increase the use of Bitcoin in household finances.
Flavio Rump, Co-Founder of Bitcoin Pulse responds:
Right now the credit card is still a much better product for consumers: They have protection, they get cashback/miles and also, it is so easy to use. Just take it out and swipe it.
Buying things with bitcoin: take out phone, open the app, scanning QR code, maybe have 2 Factor Authentication, so entering another password, confirming it, usually takes longer than just swiping the card
It is also not clear why people would buy things with bitcoin if they paid exchange fees to get them, if they can pay with CC and no exchange fee. (unless of course the merchant offers bitcoin discounts or is in another country, but those are the small minority of transactions in a persons everyday life)
John Backus, Co-Founder of BlockScore responds:
Mainstream adoption is mostly a function of time: Gradually more firms will integrate bitcoin and Bitcoin’s growth will continue to be of interest.
Ash Moran, Co-Founder of Bitcoin Manchester responds:
The two main obstacles I see are clear tax regulations and better usability for Bitcoin wallets. Bitcoin software is still far too complex for non-technical people to use, and it’s far too easy for people to lose coins.
You can view the original article will all respondent’s answers on Founders Grid, here.