Fads, trends and megatrends come and go, all with their own corresponding lifecycle. In our fast paced, short attention span world, when a product or commodity celebrates a first, then a fifth year anniversary, that would seem to indicate public acceptance. But even those naysayers still not sold on the future of Bitcoin, can’t deny after six years this cryptocurrency is not only surviving, but thriving.
The online definition of a megatrend is, “megatrends are global, sustained and macro-economic forces of development that impacts business, economy, society, cultures and personal lives thereby defining our future world and its increasing pace of change.” Megatrends generally take years to develop. Once formulated, introduced and accepted by the public, they are long lasting, become a force to be reckoned with, and have the potential to change the world.
Gitte Larsen with the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies believes, “Megatrends are great forces in societal development that will affect all areas-state, market and civil society-for many years to come. In megatrends such as, for example, prosperity and aging, lies a great deal of the knowledge we have about the future.” She went on to say, “…megatrends are our knowledge about the probable future. Megatrends are the forces that define our present and future worlds, and the interaction between them is as important as each individual megatrend. Megatrends can be a starting point for analyzing our world. Megatrends are the probable future-or express what we know with great confidence about the future.”
The identified megatrends of today include among others: globalization, increasing technological change, urbanization, and prosperity, all international concerns the future of Bitcoin can and will play a major role in as its acceptance continues.
While it’s no secret Bitcoin has ridden a global financial rollercoaster since its concept in 2009, a Techopedia article by John Okoye discusses both the pros and cons on why even if Bitcoin specifically doesn’t survive, digital currency is still the future.
The pros of Bitcoin’s future include:
- Reliability based on the fact Bitcoins are independent from government regulations and not contingent upon traditional financial institutions and their often confining regulations. Since all transactions are handled through a cryptographic safe user network no additional third-party service fees are charged and once the computer software is in place, each proceeding is effortless and secure.
- Convenience since all Bitcoin transactions are handled online, no brick and mortar facility required. After an initial Bitcoin wallet is established, a user only has to sign into their account in order to gain accessibility. No lengthy account numbers, security codes or complicated passwords are required and sensitive financial information is never involved, reducing the risk of online hacking.
- Independence from the often unrealistic demands of our current financial institutions is a big plus for many jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon. That coupled with disillusionment with the overall financial sector have more and more people searching for a currency system they feel they have control over and can trust.
- Identity-Oriented deals with the anonymity factor surrounding Bitcoin. The Bitcoin system is set up to record each and every transaction, keeping a constant “in real time” record of each Bitcoin user’s balance and transaction location. While a user name could easily be something other than a birth name or recorded company moniker, there is always a digital paper trail of checks and balances following the account.
- Decentralization is why many experts believe Bitcoin will continue to thrive. Global currency fluctuations along with the volatility and destabilization of foreign governments have made virtual currency an attractive option. Because exterior influences are kept to a minimum, the actions which over the past 10 years have caused devastating economic instability in everything from the housing market to bailouts of major corporations don’t influence the value or security of Bitcoins, making them a feasible alternative. Then because there are no global exchange rates or service charges related to changing currency between countries, those individuals who travel frequently for pleasure or business would benefit greatly by using cryptrocurrency.
Of course not everything has been sunshine and roses in the six years Bitcoin has been available. Even today volatility with the ever-changing value of a Bitcoin unit coupled with the on-going threat of government regulations give many potential users pause. There are also questions of scalability in terms of current software and server potential.
As with anything online these days, safety is always a concern and while dealing in Bitcoins offers a level of security in that no personal financial information is ever needed or stored, hackers are now hard at work coming up with new and nefarious methods of bilking people out of their digital currency. And since Bitcoins are unregulated, unlike an online debit or credit card hack where the corresponding financial institution will step in and take control of dealing with the authorities in tracking down the person or persons responsible as well as reimbursing the injured party, there are no governing bodies involved to remedy the situation.
Finally even after six years many people still see Bitcoin as a financial experiment rather than a viable financial option. Part of this illusion falls on the business and service provider community as a whole for not doing more to fully embrace this new form of currency. While “old habits die hard,” by not being more receptive to at least the concept of decentralized digital currency, the future of Bitcoin could still be at risk.
What could have a rapid and positive influence on the fate of Bitcoin are wealthy investors who understand that even money with no tangible value still must have guidance from financial experts. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are two of the most recognizable names betting on Bitcoin’s survival. The twins have amassed a small Bitcoin fortune and are currently financing the first regulated Bitcoin exchange. They believe by building a financial infrastructure similar to what established institutions now use, Bitcoin will move from the realm of a speculative trend to a megatrend with long-term staying power.