A lot of the fun of cryptocurrency comes from the speculation aspect of owning coins. In a nascent market rife with inefficiencies, there are plenty of opportunities for the average consumer to jump in and become a trader. Some cryptocurrency investors are intent on HODLING (holding the investment over time), but a large fraction of investors enjoy day trading or some form of speculative buying and selling in the short term. And regardless of strategy, most cryptocurrency owners check their value weekly if not daily. There are countless websites, programs, and financial analysts ready to tell you what the price of Bitcoin will look like tomorrow, or next week, or maybe in December. Some analysts even like to make bold predictions about Bitcoin or other currencies’ values decades into the future, often with questionable assumptions. And while I’d love to tell you that Bitcoin will quadruple in value by December, I can’t make that statement confidently. What I can say, however, is that I believe Bitcoin, and other decentralized currencies, will gain widespread adoption and usher in a new era of the digital economy.
Most people plugged into the cryptocurrency world have some degree of curiosity about the changes that this revolutionary technology will bring. Sure, I want to know the projected price of Bitcoin in a year. But I also want to know the future impact on the economy and retail experience. According to most industry experts, cryptocurrency will cause a variety of significant changes over the next few years, making shopping, saving, and transferring money even easier.
While Fiat currency is still expected to be the norm in the near future, cryptocurrencies backed by large corporations are already in the works. This summer, Facebook announced its Libra coin and Calibra subsidiary. Through Calibra, Facebook is building a large network of participating organizations that will utilize blockchain technology to offer the decentralized currency, Libra. Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Uber Technologies, and many others have already joined the project. Expected to launch in 2020, Libra is set to offer Facebook users around the world the opportunity to save, send or spend currency to anyone with a phone.
Revolutionizing the Retail Experience
According to CoinTelegraph, one cryptocurrency payment company alone recorded over $1 billion in Bitcoin transactions last year. And that’s just the beginning of crypto’s entrance into retail. Flexa, a payment processing startup, has made it possible for a host of new players to begin accepting Bitcoin as payment this year. Notable names on Flexa’s list of partners include Starbucks, Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and Lowes. With these organizations moving to accept Bitcoin, it will only be a matter of time before their competitors begin to follow suit. As a result, most major retailers are expected to add some form of cryptocurrency payment services to their options in the next couple of decades. Many businesses have already found success with Bitcoin as a payment option, though the shift has occurred mostly under the radar. Microsoft, Overstock.com, Dish, and CheapAir have already quietly begun to accept Bitcoin as payment without any issues. With so many big names already moving to accept Bitcoin, widespread adoption among retailers should occur in the next few years, leaving it up to consumers to choose the most convenient and efficient payment option.
Accessible Financial Services
Whether or not you’re excited about the impending changes in the retail and currency markets, cryptocurrency will offer some changes that we can all get excited about. First, cryptocurrencies like Libra will allow individuals to open their own savings account right from their phone. As simple as this seems, the World Bank reported that over half of adults around the world don’t have their own bank account. Offering users a secure, digital savings account that isn’t subject to government intervention, bank fees, inflation, or the value of a fiat currency, makes saving accessible to all. According to the Huffington Post, over one-third of Kenyans have a Bitcoin wallet, and that number is growing quickly. In areas where banking is either inaccessible or overpriced, cryptocurrency will fill a large gap in the market for financial services.
Another positive impact of cryptocurrency adoption will be accessible investing. While companies like ETrade and Acorns have used digital technology to make investing more accessible to the average consumer, cryptocurrency will take it to the next level. Investing in cryptocurrencies is already an option for those who cannot afford an investment advisor or don’t have the time or resources for traditional trading. Soon, millions of more investors are expected to flock towards crypto, with a recent Grayscale survey suggesting that over 21 million Americans have an interest in trying Bitcoin. And while institutional investors are rushing to get their share of the pie, the vast majority of investors are average joes like you and me. With the advent of Robo-advisors, trading in crypto became even easier than traditional online investing, and that trend is expected to continue. Coinmatic and other advisors are helping to transition those interested in investing into confident crypto traders.
Whether or not you invest in cryptocurrency or even support the decentralized currency, widespread adoption appears to be on the horizon. Crypto is helping to revolutionize retail, saving, and investing for people around the world. We just hope you get in on the action before everyone else.