Bitcoin has grown from an experiment in digital cash to a vibrant, global economy supporting multi-million dollar companies with a market cap of $10 billion.
“While the road has been bumpy, and quite a rollercoaster ride, it is still nascent and holds immense promise to change the world in unprecedented ways,” said Simon de la Rouviere, speaking at the recent Nedgroup Investments Cash Solutions Treasurers Conference.
“In 2013, the hockey-stick growth often found in the technology space kicked off for Bitcoin, seeing adoption increase worldwide.”
De la Rouviere, a technology entrepreneur who develops cryptocurrency applications, believes that Bitcoin’s global, public, distributed asset ledger is a fundamental innovation that could upset various industries – from banking to public records.
“Any business in the field of recording information fit into a ledger that charges fees to be a middleman is at risk of becoming obsolete,” he said.
As copy of Bitcoin’s ledger exists on every network participant’s computer, and is continually updated, reconciled and synchronized in real-time. Each member can make entries into the ledger, which records transactions of a certain amount of currency from one participant to another.
Each entry is propagated to the network, so that every copy on every computer is updated near simultaneously and all copies of the ledger remain synchronized.
“This blockchain technology could easily be adopted to work with title deeds, physical keys, private equity, derivatives, escrow, dispute mediation, passports, wills, domain names, and sim cards – to name but a few,” De la Rouviere said.
Looking farther ahead, the technology could potentially bring about a new apolitical reserve currency that allows programs and machines to own forms of value without the requirement of human intervention.
This could herald an almost sci-fi era, where machines earn their keep by providing services to humanity at an even more cost-efficient, break-even level than currently possible, De la Rouviere said.
“By thinking of Bitcoin not as a currency, but as a single solution to a previously unsolved algorithmic problem in distributed systems, colloquially known as the Byzantine Fault Tolerance, humanity can create global systems of consensus powered by mathematics.”
Bitcoin is a grand experiment, currently at the forefront of showing the equalizing force that the internet brought about. “It might still one day fail,” he added, “but rest assured, it is spurring innovative thinking across the board.”
Sean Segar, head of cash solutions at Nedgroup Investments, said that while the bank believes in staying abreast of trends or fads that may affect the industry, “we have no plans to launch a Bitcoin fund”.