A recent event held in the U.S. city of Detroit shows that many industry professionals believe in the power of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology but also feel that mass adoption won’t be happening overnight.
While a decade old, last year saw blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies move from the shadowy recesses of the great unknown into the bright neon lights of the future. More and more well-known establishments are turning to this disruptive technology as a salvation against paper-intensive processes and high fees and commissions.
This interest was clearly evident at a recent event in the city of Detroit in the U.S. state of Michigan. It was held at the offices of Benzinga, a financial media platform. The event was hosted by U.S. software company, Yodlee. From improving the financial industry to providing a viable alternative to traditional crowdfunding models, FinTech investors, as well as innovators, were all aboard that blockchain train.
Opportunity with a Healthy Dose of Trepidation
One of the attendees was David Bleznak, the CEO of Totle, a cryptocurrency trading platform. Bleznak believes that “there’s a lot of white space opportunity right now in crypto and blockchain.” You don’t have to go very far to see that he’s right. As an example of how blockchain is encouraging clarity in business, just look at the impact it is making for charities. The transparency that it provides means that donors know exactly where their contributions are going, drastically reducing fraud and pilfering.
As a disruptive alternative to fiat currency, the potential of blockchain and crypto adoption cannot be discussed without the mention of traditional banks. However, according to Robert Konsdorf, this can often be a one-sided conversation with financial institutions still wary of virtual currencies. Konsdorf, who is the CEO of EOS Detroit, explained that “if you mention anything about crypto to a bank, you immediately get forwarded to a compliance group and then they shut you down”.
However, he also touched on the potential difficulty of getting the masses to actually adopt crypto and blockchain and also how autonomy over their own funds could actually leave people feeling wary:
Some of the things we need to be concerned about [are] the usability of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Right now it is so hard to use that most people just cannot possibly fathom having that much responsibility. You have to understand that certain actions you take can completely lock you out of your funds, and the majority of people in society today are not ready for that.
There are, of course, banks all over the world that are successfully experimenting with blockchain-based products. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has recently and successfully launched the world’s first blockchain bond. You also have an interest in state-backed cryptocurrencies with countries like Iran and the Marshall Islands developing their own virtual currencies.
Issues Facing Adoption
Innovators all over the world are also moving away from more traditional fundraising initiatives and are embracing ICOs to raise the capital they need to finance their business ventures. Benzinga’s director of operations, Luke Jacobi, chatted about the future of financing:
Being a media company, we hear from startups and companies, specifically in tech, all day. I have the sense that we are at a crossroads with how young, startup businesses will be financed going forward.
He added that “in a couple years, it will be interesting to see where funding comes from for businesses”.
However, it’s not all sunshine and virtual roses. Blocktown Capital’s managing partner, Joseph Todaro, believes that there are issues that need to be resolved in order to guarantee a positive user experience. Until this happens, mass adoption could suffer. The managing partner of the digital asset management platform said:
Until these platforms deal with the user experience, they will likely be stuck in this cycle where it’s difficult to get into this mainstream use case.
Acceptance is growing though, with establishments like breweries and even universities starting to accept payment in virtual currency.