How I Realized That Bitcoin and Blockchain Are Not Yet Mainstream
By Naomi Oba on ALTCOIN MAGAZINE
When I was still living in Tokyo, I visited a lot of Fintech and Blockchain events. Usually, I would go at least once a week. Sometimes even 3 times…this was not always professionally motivated. Let’s be honest, who is not up for free food and drinks?
Most of the time when I explained to people what I was doing, back then I was still an Overseas Sales Associate in a blockchain consulting company, they would react with something along these lines:
“Oh wow, that’s interesting.”
“So you work with a lot of international clients?”
“What does your company actually do then?”
“Hey, I am also working in a blockchain company. Let’s see if there is any way we can collaborate.”
or “I have no idea of blockchain, but I would love to learn more.”
Most of the time overall reactions were very positive. I suspect, that might partly be due to the Japanese culture of not really saying something negative or controversial to someone you’ve just met. Another funny fact, even though BRAVE was the most downloaded browser in the Google Play Store in Japan, basically every Japanese I asked, which browser they used, had never heard of BRAVE. I don’t question the play store numbers, maybe I just know the wrong kind of people.
After changing into a role at bitcoin.com, I decided to try out a Fintech Event in London, a city known as the Fintech centre of Europe. I was pretty excited to meet startups, entrepreneurs and all kinds of Fintech professionals and to hear what they think about bitcoin and blockchain. To cut a long story short, this event was a great reminder that bitcoin and blockchain are still far from mainstream. Let me just go through some of the reactions and questions I have gotten.
“Wow, cool. So is bitcoin your product?”
I actually wish that bitcoin was my product. If it was, then I would not sit here typing these lines. I would probably live somewhere far from an office, enjoying my life. I can understand how people might end up thinking that someone working for a company called bitcoin.com must be using bitcoin. Which is true, we totally do use bitcoin, but it is not our product. After explaining what bitcoin.com does and how cryptocurrencies in general work, my conversation partner was intrigued to learn more. — Mission accomplished.
“Ah, so you are helping people evade taxes.”
Seriously, how can I react to that? “So are you.” might come across as offensive. A lecture about how tax evasion and tax avoidance are different is not something you want to dive into on a Wednesday evening with a drink in your hand during a casual networking event. Additionally, I was pretty sure that the person asking did have no bad intentions whatsoever. Ultimately, I told them that, yes, there are people circumventing tax by using cryptocurrencies, but for everyone doing so with crypto, there are at least 5 people evading tax with cash. In the end, it all comes down to one thing: whatever tools you give people, they will always find a way to use it for their own benefit..and sometimes to evade tax. This was something we could all agree on.
“Is blockchain actually solving problems?”
This is a great question. I have asked myself the same more than once, especially with regards to all the ICOs in 2017 that seemed to look for a problem for their solution rather than focusing on real-life issues. One of the reasons I see for people questioning the potential of blockchain is the relative economic stable environment we are living in developed countries. Most of us have never experienced a bank run or inflation rates above 10%. Yes, we have seen the financial crisis happen but still, we somewhat managed to continue living our lives as before. Personally, I think that one of the most intriguing use-cases of crypto exists in countries where central banks are failing their citizens, where people have totally lost trust in their governments. Another great use for blockchain is famously in banking the unbanked, which has lately become a fashionable idea, so much that even Facebook jumped on that train.
“How does bitcoin even have value?”
It was late in the evening and I was not really in the mood to discuss why any currency would have value so I just asked them, why they think the 5-pound bill they just used to pay had been accepted. Eventually, it comes down to trust. The fiat money we used several hundred years ago still had an intrinsic value. However, these days money is valuable because we all believe that we will be able to exchange this money for goods or services in the future. In this sense, bitcoin is not much different from money. As long as people agree that it has value, it will have value. The amount of value of this is expressed in $ depending and depends on market forces. On another note, the value proposition of bitcoin is not simply giving people other means to pay but more in giving them a currency that is not centrally controlled by anyone and trustless.
This is just an excerpt of questions I have seen myself confronted with. When spending most of your time with people in the blockchain industry, it is easy to forget that many concepts around crypto and blockchain are still not clear to people outside the industry. While it might be tiresome to explain over and over again, why you are into blockchain and bitcoin, it is also the only way we will grow the industry and clear up common prejudices. In that sense, happy explaining!
If you happen to have a way of explaining crypto to your grandparents, please let me know. I am still struggling with that one.
Disclaimer: All ideas and views expressed in this article are solely based on the author’s personal opinion.