Last week I wrote about the community that surrounds Bitcoin, and how I think they are negatively impacting the future of the cryptocurrency. I took quotes specifically from /r/Bitcoin, and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of replies and the mostly quality discussion that resulted from my article. I stand by the thoughts expressed in that piece, and I think the /r/Bitcoin and bitcointalk communities would benefit from less ideological focus, instead turning that energy toward practical use-cases and pragmatic approaches to scaling blockchain technology.
The most obvious industry venue in which to shop Bitcoin and blockchains is finance. Settlement systems and escrow services are two functions that stand at the top of the list to benefit from trustless ledger technology, and that seems to be where many start-ups and large financial firms are focusing their efforts. This would seem to be positive news for Bitcoin believers, who would presumably benefit from price increases related to increased Bitcoin usage. Why then is the Bitcoin community so vocally dichotomous about the finance industry?
Take, for instance, a few posts from the past 7 days. The first details how Bitcoin will become the backbone of the banking system. This is well received by readers, being upvoted to the front page of /r/Bitcoin. The second article, posted two days later, passionately explains that Bitcoin, to this user, is not about the technology at all; it’s about banks “controlling” money and doing away with that perceived control. Fast forward to today, the top post on the front page is the AMA from the Winklevii twins advertising their new exchange, Gemini. Gemini is the first exchange to be approved by the NYDFS, touting itself as a “fully” regulated exchange ready to cater to institutional clients that demand a higher degree of transparency and financial accountability. In short, Gemini is a Bitcoin exchange that plays by the rules set by the government and can therefore be utilized by banks and other financial firms. This good news was quickly followed by a post explaining why banks will disappear within a decade and a new, better world will result from replacing the evil banks. What gives?
In my post last week, I stated that Bitcoin believers, especially the most vocal commenters on Reddit and bitcointalk, are more concerned with meeting their political and ideological expectations than solving practical problems. This gap in the focus of the community, between solving real problems and solving perceived ideological problems, means Bitcoin will continue to serve a marginal clientele. So how can Bitcoin become mainstream without solving any practical problems? Quite simply, it can’t. As Bitcoin exists today, there is no use case for Bitcoin that will compel the majority of the populace to want to use it.
That’s my opinion, as someone who has been around Bitcoin almost from the start. After the replies I received last week, I would like to hear more about what the community thinks. To promote concise answers, in 100 words or less, tell me what you think is the most compelling use case for Bitcoin today. I’ll post the top 3 answers and invite the writers to offer their thoughts. Please email all submissions to [email protected]