At least one global cryptocurrency will achieve mass-market adoption. That cryptocurrency will either be Bitcoin or a derivative inspired by it. The chance that it will be the former is so strong that in 2014 I invested in Bitcoin startups Xapo and Blockstream. And yet, perhaps surprisingly, when one of the very smart people I know in Silicon Valley recently told me he’s a major “Bitcoin sceptic” who has not yet seen “many real use cases” for the technology, I considered it a good sign.
Why? Because in my experience, the most transformative ideas are not the ones that achieve broad consensus early on. Instead, they’re the ones that are so uniquely out there, so contrarian, that even informed observers have wildly differing opinions regarding their potential value.
The internet itself was like this. It started as a strange new parallel universe called “cyberspace” and then became a part of everyday life. LinkedIn, eBay, Twitter and Airbnb were all bizarre concepts at first, offering services that many observers felt would achieve fringe adoption at best. Now, they’re all part of the daily lives of millions of mainstream users.
Bitcoin is still so new it seems bizarre to most people. Yet consider how far it has come since November 1, 2008, the day that someone using the name Satoshi Nakamoto posted a white paper to a cryptography mailing list describing a “peer-to-peer version of electronic cash [that] would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”