Bitcoin is growing up.
I was briefly at the Inside Bitcoins conference in New York on Tuesday. The broad takeaway was that the cryptocurrency community is moving away from its origins in political ideology, specifically cryptoanarchy, and starting to think about how to promote Bitcoin into the mainstream.
Bitcoin as a currency has been falling out of favour.
But Bitcoin as a mechanism by which to transfer money is in. The buzzwords are “regulation,” “settlements,” and “Wall Street.”
Bitcoin is nowhere near mainstream acceptance, but the people who are looking at its long-term future are starting to think about how it’s going to get there.
Regulation, such as the New York Department of Financial Services’s BitLicense project, is a start. Companies are wary of how it might restrict their businesses, but there’s a recognition that regulation confers legitimacy. Six different talks and panels at the conference mentioned regulation in their summaries.
At Tuesday’s keynote speech, Wall Street Journal reporter and author of “The Age of Cryptocurrency,” Paul Vigna, told the room that Wall Street’s interest has been piqued. “There’s an effort to learn what it is. What are the pros, what are the cons, and how they can use it,” he said. There have been small investments here and there, perhaps most notably the new bitcoin startup headed by former JPMorgan commodities head Blythe Masters.
Bitcoin still has a long way to go before it’s a mainstream concept, not least because its adoption has been overwhelmingly male, but it is starting to look like it might actually go somewhere.