Is Bitcoin’s Promise Going Up In Smoke?

By January 19, 2016Bitcoin Business

Vivek Wadhwa is an academic, entrepreneur, and author who holds appointments at Stanford, Duke, and Singularity University.

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Not long ago, venture capitalists were talking about how Bitcoin was going to transform the global currency system and render governments powerless to police monetary transactions. Now the cryptocurrency seems to be fighting for survival.

The new reality came to light on January 14, when an influential Bitcoin developer, Mike Hearn, declared the cryptocurrency a failure and disclosed that he had sold all of his Bitcoins. The price of Bitcoin fell 10% in a single day on the news — a sad result for those who lost money on it.

Bitcoin did have great potential, but now it is damaged beyond repair and a replacement is badly needed.

It’s still true that most currency and transaction systems today are opaque, inefficient, and expensive.

Take the North American Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ, as an example. It is amongst the most technologically advanced in the world. Yet if I buy or sell a share of Facebook on the NASDAQ, I have to wait several days for the trade to finalize and clear. This is unacceptable; it should take milliseconds.

In Venezuela, citizens wishing to buy anything of value on supermarket shelves wait all day in lines to do so, because hyperinflation causes the paper currencies in their pockets to lose significant value every day.When migrant workers there send money back to their families in places such as Mexico, India, and Africa, they are gouged by money-transfer companies — paying as much as 5%–12% in fees. And even in the U.S., payment processors and credit-card companies collect merchant fees of 1–2.5% of the value of every transaction. This is a burden on the economy.Bitcoin aimed to change this, but it was born with serious flaws. […]

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