Who Will Use Bitcoin as CasH? A few of the more likely candidates:
Tourists who want to exchange money without paying expensive exchange fees;
Residents who want to send money abroad, to family members or friends, and avoid high fees;
International traders who need to move large amounts of money quickly and cheaply;
People in countries with failed monetary systems, where Bitcoin has already become the most stable and secure form of money;
People in countries with restrictive capital controls, who want a way to escape from their country’s currency;
People who want a store of value that cannot be confiscated by governments.
When I first started researching bitcoin in 2013, I thought it was a neat idea but deeply flawed. It seemed to me that the use case for bitcoin–digital cash–was a niche application (even if an important one).
I have changed my mind. This week, when I was planning to write my annual “best ideas” letter at the end of the year, I realized that my best idea for 2017 was “buy bitcoin.”
Who Will Use Bitcoin as Cash?
Bitcoin is now primarily a digital currency used for financial speculation. But it has the potential to be much more than that. The markets are pricing in its use as an investment vehicle and store of value. But there are several other potential use cases for bitcoin:
Digital cash: Bitcoin is a great replacement for cash in many situations where friction from credit cards or lack of access to banking services make cash the dominant form of transaction today. For example, millions of people living in countries with less-than-stable currencies (like Venezuela) use bitcoin as a hedge against inflation and currency devaluation. There are also many people around the world who don’t have access to traditional banking services and so must rely on physical cash or alternative payment mechanisms that charge fees like Western Union or PayPal. These people might be
I’ve been thinking about Bitcoin for the last few weeks, and I think I’m starting to get it. Although I’m a bitcoin skeptic, I can see why people are excited. The idea of a decentralized currency is attractive, and there’s potentially a lot of money to be made if it takes off.
There’s still one big question in my mind: who will use cryptocurrency as cash? I can accept Bitcoin as an investment opportunity, but the idea that people will use it to buy coffee seems farfetched. And unless it’s used for payments, its utility as a store of value is limited; you can’t spend gold or shares in Apple, either.
Sam Altman is a smart guy who has thought about bitcoin and agrees with me that it’s very likely to be a big deal. He is also an investor in BitInstant, which I think increases the likelihood that he’s right.
But who will use bitcoin as cash? The main problem with using bitcoin as cash is that it doesn’t scale; it takes ten minutes to confirm a transaction, and you can only do seven per second. It’s true that this could be fixed (with, e.g., payment channels), but until it is fixed, there are some categories of user where bitcoin as cash obviously makes no sense.
Here’s my list of people who will probably not use bitcoin as cash:
Anyone who needs change
Anyone who buys more than $50 worth of anything at once (it’s not like your credit card gives change either)
Anyone who buys less than $10 worth of anything at once (bitcoin fees are higher than credit card fees)
Anyone who buys less than $1 worth of anything at once (same)
Anyone who buys anything for less than a penny (same)
So basically, no one is going to use bitcoin for coffee or newspapers or anything else
First, Bitcoin would be useful to people who live in countries where the local currency is very volatile, subject to extreme inflation, or otherwise risky. This is a small group of people now, but could get bigger.
Second, Bitcoin would be useful to people who want to make financial transactions that are illegal either for moral reasons or because they are outside the law, such as online gambling or buying drugs. (Right now a few Internet drug stores accept bitcoins.) This is a small group of people now, but could also grow.
Third, Bitcoin would be useful to people who have a strong privacy need — for example people who are being extorted and don’t want the extortionist to know how to find them if they pay up. This is a small group of people now and will probably remain so.
Fourth and finally, Bitcoin could provide an alternative global currency that is not tied to any particular country. This is its most interesting possibility: it’s what has attracted the attention of economists like Paul Krugman. But while this is theoretically possible — there are other currencies used in international trade — it’s not clear how much demand there would be for such a currency. On the one hand, it might help protect countries from financial crises like the ones Argentina has suffered; on the
1) Unbanked Internet users.
2) The unbanked in third world countries.
3) Anyone who wants to send money remotely without using a bank.
4) Anyone who doesn’t trust banks.
5) Criminals who want to move money without being tracked.
6) Students and activists who want to make donations without being tracked by governments.
7) People with disabilities who can’t leave the house to use ATMS, etc.8) Businesses that don’t want to pay credit card fees or give away customer information.9) People who live in countries with volatile currencies or high inflation rates.10) Digital artists and musicians who want an alternative to selling their work through iTunes or other third parties.11) People who lose their wallets.
12) Bitcoin enthusiasts (especially early adopters).13) Savvy investors looking for better returns than the stock market, real estate, and gold are currently offering (if the price goes up 1000%, a $5k investment becomes $50K – not bad!).14) People with big utility bills that fluctuate seasonally and need a way to self-insure against future rate hikes (buy bitcoins when prices are low in the summer, sell them at higher prices in the winter).
The peer-to-peer payment network Bitcoin has taken the world by storm. The digital currency (also known as a cryptocurrency) enables real-time, low-fee payment processing. In the wake of Bitcoin’s success, there has been growing interest in other digital currencies that can be used to pay for goods and services or transferred to fiat currencies like dollars or euros.
Bitcoins are created by people who use supercomputers to solve complex mathematical algorithms. These algorithms are related to the generation of additional Bitcoins. As more Bitcoins are generated, the computing power required to create them increases. This is an important factor that limits the number of Bitcoins that will ever be created (there will only be 21 million). The first bitcoins were created in 2009 and since then, they have grown increasingly popular because they have numerous advantages over fiat currencies.
One key advantage is that transactions with Bitcoins do not require a third party intermediary. For example, if you want to buy something from someone in another country using your credit card, you may find that your credit card company charges a significant fee for foreign transactions. With Bitcoin, there is no third party involved; instead, the transaction simply takes place between two individuals directly through their computers and software programs (no middleman).
Another advantage is anonymity