This past weekend a member of the POS team spent the weekend attending the second annual Cryptolina Bitcoin Expo, a conference covering all the different aspects of Bitcoin, blockchain technology, & digital currency. Last year the first annual conference was held in Raleigh North Carolina & had a turnout of over 300 people. This years turnout was more modest with half of the audience speaking at the expo. There were people from various backgrounds that came to the Historic McGlohon Theatre in Charlotte North Carolina to learn, network, & discuss about all things Bitcoin & digital currency. There were guests from the Banking industry (All Wells Fargo) in attendance, Entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists, Technologists, Lawyers, Lobbyists, & there was even a couple of Federal Law Enforcement agents in the building (DEA & United States Marshall.) All were here to learn more about this emerging new phenomenon called Bitcoin. So we’re sure you’re wondering….
For those that don’t know about bitcoin the video below gives you a general sense of what Bitcoin is & these images were taken from Robert Sherwood’s presentation on his online non-for profit organization called bitbasics.org.
What makes Bitcoin (and Digital Currency in general) different from the Fiat Currency that’s universally used across the world today, is that Bitcoin is “Decentralized” meaning that no single institution controls the digital currency, much like the internet itself that is needed to use Bitcoin. The money that people normally use today like the US dollar & Euros; can be used much like Bitcoin to buy goods & services online. However what the average individual does not realize is that the money that we normally use is actually legal tender (i.e. Debt) from the government which is controlled by the federal reserve system that actually produces the fiat currency. So when there is an inflation of consumer goods, & taxes being raised throughout the country, it is a direct reflection of how the government & the banks are
abusing using our money. Bitcoin does not have that level of power over the money being used on the internet. It is simply a vessel for people to have more control & power over their own hard earned money, as opposed to their money being controlled & manipulated by the banks that hold it.
What makes Bitcoin so valuable is the fact that it takes all the security & power over one’s money & puts it solely in the hands of the user. This means that you will no longer have to concern yourself with random charge & interest fees from banks that take away money directly from your bank account. The same way the internet & social media has made it easy to communicate with people all around the world, the concepts of Bitcoin & a “Decentralized Bank” allows people to transfer money all across the world without the major financial institutions making exorbitant amounts of money in transfer fees just to send money to someone in another country. This may not seem like a big deal for the average American Citizen, given that America is one of the wealthiest Countries in the world. However, for poor & developing countries like Africa, which are heavily reliant on remittance to support themselves, this is a potential game changer. It’s been estimated that the African Diaspora sends between $30 to $40 Billion dollars a year into the African economy, only for money transfer corporations like Moneygram & Western Union to take up to 10-13 Percent of that money for profit. With the use of Bitcoin the billions of dollars being made by these major corporations can now be taken back & placed into the economy of African countries.
After talking with various groups of people in the Expo, there’s a general consensus that the evolution of this new technology in the long run will prove to be most impactful for developing countries as more & more people across the world are gaining access to the internet & smartphones. However, it can still be beneficial to people in developed countries like America & Europe. With the increase of identity theft & the data breaches from major companies like Target & Home Depot, the need for consumer anonymity is rapidly increasing. Furthermore, despite the growing incidents of identity theft, American companies still request an unnecessary amount of personal information from consumers, just to open an account or pay for goods & services. As a matter of fact every time an American citizen uses their debit or credit card for any merchant, their personal information is exposed. This new technology of Bitcoin can alleviate those issues by keeping all parties anonymous. Bitcoin is also starting to be recognized by major American corporations & online services, as this new technology is starting to be recognized by more & more people.
In conclusion, it may take awhile for the general public to truly catch on to the “Next Big Thing.” After Bitcoin was discovered in 2010, much like the internet & social media before Bitcoin; it was met with much skepticism at first. As a matter of fact, major media outlets have even gone as far as to associate Bitcoin with criminal activity, mostly due to the much publicized Silk Road investigation. However it’s important to note that in any facet of life there will always be positive & negative aspects of things. There was no such thing as “Cyberbullying” before social media came around. And people tend to forget that the internet was first regularly being used by pornographers in its early stages & were the first group of people to implement online payments to acquire goods & services, well before Paypal was being created. So just like any other new technology it will take time for people to embrace the next evolution of the internet. Although there are still questions & concerns over Bitcoin as a payment system, Blockchain Technology & “Digital Currency”, now that the technology is out there, it is here to stay. After all, you can communicate & share information with almost anyone across the world with the use of internet & social media. Why can’t we also use the internet to control our money too?