Predicting the future of cryptocurrency is not a straightforward task. Last year didn’t seem to be a progressive year for adoption, albeit closer than ever before, while in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic adds new challenges. Bringing new technology into the mainstream takes time, with cryptocurrency EOS chief Dan Larimer saying that it needs to prove it makes life easier without high-risk or cost. If you consider email, which despite being invented during the 1970s, didn’t become widespread until the late 1990s, and is now being phased out in some industries. If cryptocurrency is on a similar timeline, it may be 2040 before we can genuinely talk about its impact.
However, progress has been made with cryptocurrency in the last decade. Looking at Bitcoin alone, the number of transactions each year is rising exponentially.
Much like any emerging product, cryptocurrency tends to be used by those who believe in the cause. For example, while electric cars are slowly becoming more mainstream; in the beginning, they were purchased mainly by people who believed in the philosophy. If we consider that Satoshi Nakamoto only mined the first Bitcoin on a decentralised network in 2009, for eleven years old, cryptocurrency has come a very long way quickly.
|2009||First Bitcoin on a decentralized network mined by Satoshi Nakamoto|
|2011||Launch of Litecoin|
|2012||Launch of Ripple|
|2013||Single price of Bitcoin reaches $1,000|
|2015||Launch of Ethereum and smart contracts for cryptocurrency|
|2017||1,000 cryptocurrencies are listed|
|2017||Single price of Bitcoin reaches $10,000 and only just below a peak of $20,000|
|2018||EOS blockchain-based infrastructure for decentralised applications|
The Spain-based cryptocurrency app 2gether ran a survey of users to understand the profile of someone using cryptocurrencies. The result was relatively conclusive in that the majority are males aged between 26 and 45 years old, working in white-collar professions like law and accountancy. Typically, those users are not paying for housing or bills and have a high disposable income, using cryptocurrencies for food and novelty items.
Big brands like Starbucks embrace the cryptocurrency movement by allowing consumers to exchange bitcoin for the US Dollar at Starbucks locations. For merchants like Starbucks, cryptocurrency is incredibly beneficial as it reduces transaction fees associated with traditional payments and can help mitigate fraud.
In developing countries, the evolving use case for adopting cryptocurrency is as an alternative to the traditional currency where they are experiencing hyperinflation. In countries like Nigeria and Vietnam, bitcoin is a hedge against political and economic instability. According to Statista, Nigeria has the largest number of respondents who said they have used or owned cryptocurrencies.
As we see a growing number of blockchain applications and decentralised currencies, the number of developing countries actively interested in cryptocurrency will continue to rise. It is a scenario of a virtual currency offering the definitive solution to the real-world problem of fiat currency. In all, there are plenty of reasons why a DeFi platform offers a viable alternative in developing nations.
A problem which still exists with cryptocurrency in 2020 is that many people do not understand how it works. Although platforms are maturing, cryptocurrency is still not particularly easy to buy, sell, send, receive, or trade.
The Foundation for Interwallet Operability (FIO) says that ensuring cryptocurrency is straightforward for the masses is critical for its future. Real-world adoption will only come once a technology is accessible to everyone. For example, consider how easy it is to use PayPal or Venmo. Cryptocurrencies must fall into the same bracket.
In an FIO report, 25% of survey respondents say they felt ‘very comfortable’ after sending cryptocurrency to another party, with 58% being ‘cautiously optimistic’.
When a transfer of value is involved, users need to have high confidence that everything will go as planned. That is even more true when working with an immutable ledger that does not allow a human to intervene, as with a traditional bank.
The cryptocurrency ecosystem is snowballing, with institutional investors such as the Harvard Endowment Fund, exchanges like Coinbase, banks such as J.P. Morgan, and big tech companies including IBM and Microsoft becoming significant players. This increasing popularity creates new policies and mandates further adoption, the gathering momentum bringing longer-term implications into focus.
All transactions could be anonymous and protect user data using cryptography.
The decentralised financial system will give access to 1.7 billion people worldwide who do not currently bank.
The traceable and immutable records of transactions will lead to secure transactional networks, mitigating the risk of fraud and crime.
Settlement times for international transactions could become almost instant.
Reducing administrative work using smart contracts. Cryptocurrency networks could replace the need for traditional documentation in KYC or AML processes.
Deutsche Bank’s Imagine 2030 report suggests that the rising demand for anonymous transactions and decentralisation equates to digital currency possibly replacing cash. The German bank has forecast cryptocurrency growth along a similar path to how the internet grew in its first twenty years, growing fourfold over the next decade to 200 million users.
It is a distant memory now, but when the internet was made available for commercial use, most people and businesses did not know how to connect, let alone turn it into a revenue stream. Cryptocurrency is following a similar trajectory. The challenge comes with how governments approach cryptocurrency integration into the existing economy. Until the government sees digital currencies as legitimate, there is no tremendous amount of hope for full worldwide adoption.
The first thing we might see eradicated through cryptocurrency is plastic debit and credit cards. If you consider the evolution of money, paper and coins are becoming almost irrelevant to many people, while cards succumb to mobile payment apps like WeChat Pay, PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Payments. The continuing growth of cryptocurrencies tells us we do not need to own plastic cards anymore.
Although cryptocurrency volatility makes accurate predictions challenging, two of the trends we might see are crypto loans and decentralised trading.
The popularity of lending money in digital currencies is beginning to increase. With low-interest rates, the convenience of digital funds, and a simplified system for borrowers, there are several benefits over traditional lending. For example, traders and investors can receive funds in real-time rather than having to wait. Also, people who are rejected by banks for credit may find borrowing easier with decentralised digital money.
A decentralised exchange lets transactions be made directly between two users without an intermediary. A major benefit here is that there are no fees involved for the users and they do not have to use unnecessary third parties. The decentralized environment is also secure against hackers without there being a single point of value, such as a bank.
Although decentralised exchanges are not ready for mass adoption yet, we are probably not a long way off, and they will be part of the cryptocurrency future.
Cryptocurrency does offer a solution with the potential to make fiat currency obsolete. Individuals can be their own bank and payment method in a highly secure decentralised platform. The decisive factor in the future of cryptocurrency adoption is encouraging people to use it. If the technical and regulatory challenges are to be overcome, making it a straightforward option for everyone, there is no reason why it will not be fully integrated with daily life.
Disclaimer: The author of this text, Jean Chalopin, is a global business leader with a background encompassing banking, biotech and entertainment. Mr. Chalopin is Chairman of Deltec International Group, www.deltecbank.com.
The co-author of this text, Robin Trehan, has a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s in international business and finance, and an MBA in electronic business. Mr. Trehan is a Senior VP at Deltec International Group, www.deltecbank.com.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text are solely the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Deltec International Group, its subsidiaries, and/or its employees.
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