There have been plenty of discussions on what’s needed for Bitcoin to go mainstream. Some have argued that the fact that large institutions such as Fidelity and ICE’s Bakkt are entering the field is going to propel it to the masses.
Others have maintained that the seemingly increasing popularity of Bitcoin ATM’s, as well as the fact that Bitcoin is being accepted in more and more retail and commercial stores, is what’s needed. Yet, among all that, one truth emerges – Bitcoin will become mainstream only when it becomes necessary.
Institutions And Their Role
Plenty of institutions have already attested their intention to enter the cryptocurrency space. Fidelity Investment, one of the world’s largest asset managers, confirmed that they are in the final testing phase of their new cryptocurrency trading platform.
On the other hand, we also have Bakkt – the Bitcoin futures trading platform of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the owner of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The platform is expected to begin user acceptance testing any day now. It will offer physically-settled Bitcoin futures which means that at the end of the expiration period users will receive an actual Bitcoin rather than its monetary representation.
The question is, however, do these things even matter when it comes to Bitcoin going mainstream? Institutions can surely help spread the word of the cryptocurrency but will they propel actual usage? It’s rather unlikely. By the looks of it, they provide yet another way to gain exposure to Bitcoin’s price and to speculate with its direction with the sole purpose of making profits. That’s not adoption.
Retailers and Bitcoin ATMs
According to the popular crypto ATM tracking website Coinatmradar, there are currently 5223 cryptocurrency ATMs throughout the world, spread across 77 countries. While it may sound impressive for an industry that’s rather nascent, when you think about it – it’s really not. Not to mention the fact that the majority of countries don’t have Bitcoin ATMs at all.
On the other hand, we also saw a lot of different popular retailers to start accepting Bitcoin. Just in May, it was announced that Amazon-owned Whole Foods, as well as Nordstrom and Crate and Barrel, among other popular retailers, began accepting Bitcoin. There are plenty of online services that could be paid for by using Bitcoin. And that’s good for the industry, there’s no doubt about it.
However, whether or not it will propel mass adoption any further is a completely different question. By giving someone the option to pay with Bitcoin, this doesn’t automatically suggest that they will do so.
So When Will Bitcoin Go Mainstream?
All of the above will help, there’s no doubt about it. However, on their own, their not a propelling factor.
It was recently taken to Twitter that Bitcoin will become mainstream only when it “stops being a community and starts being a necessity.”
Companies whose futures depend on the success of bitcoin should create roles that deal exclusively with making the case for mass adoption to the general public. We go mainstream when bitcoin stops being a community and starts being a necessity. 🌚
— Square Crypto (@sqcrypto) July 22, 2019
Indeed, in order for Bitcoin to see true mass adoption, people must need to use it. It has to be viewed not as a far-fetched alternative, however better it may be, but as an actual necessity here and now.
As of yet, we can clearly see that there’s a strong community revolving around the world’s largest cryptocurrency but that’s about it. The actual usage is insignificant and it remains a highly speculative asset which is mostly viewed as a profit-generating tool.
Perhaps the clearest sign that Bitcoin has hit the mainstream would be when we stop value it in terms of fiat currencies. Indeed, 1 BTC is 1 BTC, not $10,000. The quicker this gets realized, the sooner it will become mainstream.
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