Regrets, I’ve had a few. Maybe too few to mention, but there are still a few: I started looking into Bitcoin at around 2011, when its value was around $2.
I found the concept fascinatingly anarchistic and considered buying 50 BTC, to see how it worked. I thought too long about where I could legally spend Bitcoin. As BTC’s value crept up to $30 and I still had not managed to work out how to use Bitcoin, I decided not to bother.
Despite the nagging feeling of having missed something huge, virtual and cryptocurrencies still fascinate me. I do not believe that cash or cards are contemporary means of payment anymore. Similarly, I do not believe that the payments industry is the only industry on the verge of a complete technology-driven make-over. It is the Blockchain – a decentralised ledger recording data transmissions – that will change all industries forever.
A holy grail for transactions
Powering Bitcoin and many of its relatives, Blockchain has traditionally been associated with financial services, and cryptocurrencies in particular. This was the focus of CES 2017. But Blockchain is more. It makes data equally accessible for various parties. It makes records transparent and auditable, and cannot be altered – which means that transactions are safe and secure. And cheap. It is the holy grail for any transaction, combining convenience with security.
This is reflected at this year’s CES, where the discussion is in the broader context of consumer electronics. Transparent yet secure and cost-efficient transactions are crucial for many applications, including smartphones allowing users to use encrypted communication as well as to make and receive payments without having to pay fees. The Blockchain can also power ride applications between car owners and users without third party involvement. There will be authentication of medical records, a requirement for personalised healthcare which will take off this year. Several countries already record real estate contracts on blockchains. Recruiters use the Blockchain to verify candidates’ experience and qualifications.
No regrets, honestly…
Late last year, adding “Blockchain” to a company’s name seemed to be sufficient to dramatically increase a business’s value. Similar to Artificial Intelligence or the Internet of Things, we will see a flood of Blockchain-related companies and applications entering the market this year. Most of them will either fail spectacularly or go unnoticed. A few companies though will be able to find and launch applications that matter, will be able to monetise them and gradually advance Blockchain technology. It is a revolution, but a gentle and constant one.
So do I really regret not having bought Bitcoin for $2 per piece? I am actually not so sure anymore. Not being a gambler I probably would have sold them for $5 anyway. For me though, the better option is to look at companies that invest into Blockchain-powered businesses themselves. They are the ones that are likely to succeed, in the long-term.