Bitcoin’s creation myth is great — an unknown computer whiz operating under the handle of “Satoshi Nakamoto” pulled together maths, computer science, and financial-market literacy to create the powerful crypto-currency now used to buy everything from illegal drugs to new cars.
We met with a plugged in source at the Money2020 conference in Las Vegas this week who requested not to be identified, and he’s a bit cynical toward the anonymous digital currency.
“Bitcoin has everyone’s attention not because they want a new currency, but because they want a religion,” he said. The parallels: Bitcoin has its invisible figurehead, its outspoken evangelists, and its feisty detractors. It can be harnessed for good just as it can be used for “bad.”
“To look at Bitcoin as merely a currency is to miss the point. Because it solves the famous double-spend problem — you can’t send the same bitcoin to two different recipients just like you can’t spend the same dollar twice — there are incredible opportunities to use it as a means of verifying identity, not just for moving money. The ‘killer Bitcoin app’ has yet to arrive.”
Our source isn’t necessarily referring to a killer smartphone app, but to real-world applications of Bitcoin technology in all kinds of fields. He elaborated on how one could hypothetically use Bitcoin protocols to conduct a presidential election, for example. Non-replicable data could very easily confirm a voter’s identity and prevent any fraud or foul play.
This is an echo of a sentiment we heard earlier in the conference — the state of Bitcoin today is comparable to the Web in its infancy. Functional and useful, but far from perfected.