2013 was all about Bitcoin, with various other cryptocurrencies arriving on the scene, but could 2014 be the start of something new?
Bitcoin had an exciting 2013, multiplying in value by a dizzying amount, before crashing and then pulling itself back up to where it once was. It’s also had plenty of controversy around its legitimacy and use in various countries around the world. But finally, it looks as if acceptance is on the way as many online retailers, web games and some physical stores have started taking the digital currency as a legitimate form of payment.
But what about 2014? Will it be another year for Bitcoin, or could we see an explosion of cryptocurrencies being accepted as forms of payment online and in store?
It’s hard to say for sure, but it certainly seems likely thanks to the ever-growing net of potential payment coins existing online. It’s bound to happen at some point, purely down to the idea of critical mass.
We’ve already spoken about Litecoin, an alternative that works almost like the pennies to Bitcoin’s pound while offering faster transactions; but there’s also Anoncoin, which offers far more anonymity than Bitcoin; Worldcoin, a currency designed to appreciate over time; Stablecoin, which promises to have “military-grade” encryption; and the delightfully jokey cryptocurrency of Dogecoin.
But cryptocurrencies are also forming around groups, meaning that spending power can be held by certain areas of interest, making paying for a particular item work well. Think of it almost as some form of pre-paid card, in the digital era.
Coinye Wests, named after the US hip-hop artist Kanye West, are used to purchase gig tickets and records; Peercoin is there to be used as a more equitable way of sharing cryptocurrency – opposed to Bitcoin’s mass wealth held by early adopters; there are Sexcoins, which I’m sure you can work out what they’re for; and Dogecoin really just identifies a certain demographic of internet-savvy users rather than limiting its spending potential.
This secularisation of cryptocurrencies in the digital space could well be a confusing prospect for many, including retailers, but in the payments game, it’s just another way of making a transaction happen. And if more people are using the channels for digital currency, that certainly legitimises far more instances of mobile money and mobile wallets. It’s also worth noting that the more people who use these currencies, the better their reputation will become, moving it away from being associated with shady goings on - although, Sexcoin may always carry such a connotation.
Now the usage and creation cryptocurrencies is unequivocally on the rise, it certainly isn’t a pipe dream to imagine consumers making regular payments with it, or withdrawing and transferring money via ATMs. 2013 was the start of a big change in the payments world, and 2014 looks to make things even bigger.
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