How History Shows Bitcoin Could Transform Finance
It's hard to envision the future bitcoin bulls do - where bitcoin is more ubiquitous than Visa, used for more than just purchases and accepted around the globe. But the difficulty sharing the vision doesn't make it a mirage.
The general lack of foresight about technology is an old tale. Johannes Gutenberg's printing press, the telephone and Internet were all laughed at and discounted before changing the world.
Understanding Requires Imagination
Understanding these revolutionary technologies requires suspending disbelief and imagining the future. Transformative technologies don’t work right away. They require infrastructure and industries to be built around them.
When Gutenberg introduced the printing press, only 30 percent of European adults could read; those who could were primarily wealthy individuals who already had access to books. To many, the invention appeared worthless.
Visionaries, on the other hand, could see the potential of the printing press - that it would increase literacy and increase access to human knowledge. Even the visionaries, however, probably didn’t foresee the role it would play in the scientific revolution and sparking knowledge-based economies.
The same is true of the telephone. Believing that the telephone would one day enable people to talk across a city, country, or around the globe may have seem impossible when first introduced by Alexander Graham Bell. Obstacles like needing to run cables across the ocean and identifying the phone to connect to would seem insurmountable.
Where Bitcoin Is Today
Bitcoin, or rather digital currencies, are in that early phase today. At five years old, bitcoin is a big idea with the potential to impact every financial transaction in the world. From reading the news in the morning to purchasing a house or financial stock, everything could be improved by bitcoin.
Therein lies the problem: it can improve all financial transactions, but today's use cases are fringe. For people to understand bitcoin as an investment, they need to spend some time learning about it, understanding the myths, the realities and the challenges.
Where Will Bitcoin Go?
Similar to the printing press, telephone and Internet, no one knows the full impact of digital currencies. Frictionless financial transactions and programmable money may one day provide unforeseen benefits to society.
History tells us most revolutionary technologies overcome the obstacles. Digital currencies are on the verge of success and bitcoin is the current market leader.
Spend five minutes learning about bitcoin, suspend disbelief and dare to imagine. It may be the best investment of a lifetime.
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