The Future of Money
Digital currency is transforming the way we do business. By taking the power away from a third-party, the technology is changing the way we accept, bill, and pay for things. Some believe that cryptocurrencies and the technology on which they’re based, blockchain, have the potential to be even more of a disruptor.
Last year, Brian Forde suggested that cryptocurrencies could put the capability of platforms like Uber into the hands of everyone.
“In the same way Amazon, AirBnB, and Uber were enabled by the open infrastructure of the internet to disrupt publishing, video rental and retail, holiday lets, and taxi hire, respectively, cryptocurrency will enable the disruption of the disruptors;” the former White House Senior Tech Advisor to Barack Obama told London Business School.
A cryptocurrency is a digital currency that is created (some would say “mined”) using the processing power of computers. This process results in currencies such as Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency transactions are processed on a blockchain, a shared database of records (blocks) that keeps track of all transactions. Each transaction’s details are stored and verified by the network. Info on blockchain is encrypted, so everyone can see it but only the owner of each Bitcoin can decrypt it. Each owner is given a private key that they can use to decrypt their Bitcoin. Senders can remain anonymous.
Unlike, say, Wikipedia, the currency is decentralized. Because the database is shared, there’s no central authority determining the ledger or a coin’s value. No third-parties, like banks, are involved.
Bitcoin is the first and best-known cryptocurrency. (One of the first real-world transactions occurred in 2010, when a Florida programmer paid 10,000 Bitcoins for two pizzas.) But the number of cryptocurrencies has since grown to nearly 2000. These “altcoins” are sometimes similar to Bitcoin, sometimes not—Ethereum, for example, was designed as a huge platform for building apps on a blockchain. Though it is primarily used for cryptocurrencies, blockchain tech is being considered as a solution for better online data management and transactions.
More and more people and businesses accept Bitcoin and use it for payments. Online retailers are still evaluating whether they should become involved, however, and if so, how. Other kinds of organizations, from financial management businesses to non-profit fundraising groups, are also looking at the best way to integrate cryptocurrency use into their operational strategies.
Let’s look at why and how cryptocurrencies will disrupt business.
Fewer barriers to entry
Anyone can invest in or trade cryptocurrency. More tools and software are becoming available to help the neophyte. The Bitcoin Code System, for example, is a cryptocurrency trading system that can get a newbie started from 0, and offer tips and information, along the way.
Reduced transaction and transfer fees
Cryptocurrencies don’t involve third parties, like banks. When sending cryptocurrency coins, authorization and authentication of your transfers are no longer necessary. This means no direct processing fees.
Merchants selling online, however, will likely be charged a small flat fee for their merchant wallet account or accounts, like BitPay, or CoinPayments. These allow businesses to accept certain cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency transactions happen almost immediately. Sales are also final, which means that charges cannot be negated after the fact. All of this translates into more financial security for your business.
Improved customer access/no exchange rate
Because digital currency is non-governmental, it is by definition international. There are no exchange rates or fees across borders. Offering coin payment options may increase global clientele, especially as use grows, and boost a company’s bottom line.
Originally designed to free money, payments and people from centralized entities, cryptocurrencies have also fueled speculation. Just look at the massive ups and downs experienced by Bitcoin.
However, electronic wallet accounts also offer immediate conversion to fiat money. So those worried about the value of a certain kind of coin crashing can have the option to convert.
Companies that keep payments and revenue in the form of cryptocurrency are essentially taking the risk that comes with coin investment.
A cashless society
As more people become involved in cryptocurrency, the use of cash becomes even less common. As a result, we’ve come closer and closer to a truly cashless society. From cash to debit cards to electronic payments via apps, we are moving towards a more convenient form of paying.
Cryptocurrency provides another alternative to the status quo methods. Today, businesses might have to weigh their options when considering cryptocurrency, but the option is still there. In the future, cryptocurrency will compete with the financial system by offering a whole new option with potentially better advantages for investments.
Ultimately, tech forecasters like Brian Forde believe cryptocurrencies will disrupt finance, education, media, and government sectors, among many others. It’s now up to businesses to understand the implications in order to benefit from the coming wave rather than be swallowed up by it.