The crazy rollercoaster ride that has been the cryptocurrency market of recent years could lead you to think that this burgeoning technological innovation is little more than an online slot machine, only of interest to intrepid speculators. However, you couldn’t be more wrong, as cryptocurrency has the potential to offer so much more and a series of new studies suggest that it now stands on the brink of becoming a mainstream currency.
Cryptocurrency (AKA digital currency) burst onto the fintech scene in 2009, in the shape of Bitcoin, the first of its kind. Since then there have been numerous new incarnations of this trailblazing technology, such as Etherium, Litecoin and Ripple, but Bitcoin remains the best-known of the bunch. Nearly 10 years on, and we are still learning about the potential cryptocurrency has to change the face of finance.
Bitcoin’s surge in value in 2017 may have brought it to the attention of the masses, but far from being just a commodity for trading, cryptocurrency could revolutionise the business world as a whole, providing a secure and efficient way to carry out monetary transactions across international borders, unfettered by political barriers and prohibitive banking costs. In addition, it is already possible for any individual to purchase a wide range of everyday items with it, or even buy an Amazon voucher and exchange this for a whole gamut of goods.
However, widespread acceptance of cryptocurrency as a mainstream currency by the person in the street has yet to happen, but this could be set to change soon. With any new technology, acceptance can be slow and suspicion about its validity may be high, and attitudes to cryptocurrency have been no different. But, a change in culture and opinion towards ground-breaking innovations often comes from the fresh and forward-thinking perspective of the younger generation, as seen with previous technologies, such as the Internet and social media. For example, Facebook, now a global phenomenon, originated as a social network for students before mass adoption worldwide.
Now, a recent study by crypto exchange Coinbase and ad-tech firm Qriously, which included a survey of 675 US students, suggests that cryptocurrency may be taking a similar route, as interest in the subject has been found to be growing steadily among students and at universities.
The iGen era
In fact, this recent research found that 18% of student respondents owned, or had owned, Bitcoin or’ another cryptocurrency, which at twice the number of the general population suggests a substantial shift in attitudes. It also revealed that 42% of top universities are now running at least one course on cryptocurrency or blockchain, the technology that underpins it, which are beginning to burst at the seams with applicants.
So, this could be the shape of things to come, as we enter the era of the iGen, the generation born between 1996 and 2012, with its entrepreneurial outlook, which is set to start joining the workplace now and whose attitudes will shortly be shaping the business world.
Interestingly, this research echoes the findings of a UK study published in July this year by Imperial College, London and trading platform eToro, which claims that cryptocurrencies ‘offer a viable evolutionary “next step” for money’ and could become a mainstream payment method within just a decade.
A global currency
These are mighty claims to make about something which has, quite frankly, received a lot of flak in recent months as a result of the wildly fluctuating crypto markets. However, belief in cryptocurrency as a potential global currency of the future is still growing. In fact, for the entrepreneur endeavouring to build a global business, cryptocurrency already provides an international currency offering a faster and lower-cost way to carry out worldwide transactions than traditional methods.
Indeed, one farsighted organisation, LEO, a global entrepreneurship training company, recognised these benefits back in 2014, and developed its own cryptocurrency, LEOcoin, to be user-friendly and ‘the entrepreneur’s digital currency of choice’. Now well-established, this helps many successful entrepreneurs across the world to build their businesses. It is therefore fair to say that interest in this innovative fintech is increasing across the globe, and another study of attitudes to cryptocurrency in Europe, the US and Australia, published by financial institution ING in June this year, found that one in four people (25%) now expect to own cryptocurrency in the future and 35% agree that cryptocurrency is the future of spending online.
So, the scene certainly seems set for some major changes in the financial world over the coming years. And, if you like to stay ahead of the curve, it would pay to keep a close eye on cryptocurrency developments and have an open mind, if you don’t want to get left behind.