The next generation of currency is here, and it’s rapidly growing in popularity every day. At the current rate, Bitcoin’s mainstream adoption will likely take a mere decade.
Previously, extreme changes in monetary policies and financial ecosystems took multiple decades or even centuries for people to adopt. The replacement of gold with paper certificates of ownership, which the world now recognizes as fiat money or cash, took more than 400 years to be broadly deployed and accepted.
The next evolution of money emerged upon the introduction of credit cards. Although the fundamental concept was based on an existing financial and monetary structure in cash, mainstream adoption took more than 50 years.
In stark contrast, Bitcoin has been growing at an exponential pace, which analysts failed to predict, and is currently the best performing currency in the world. At the start of 2017, the price of Bitcoin averaged at $1,017 and its market cap was at $16.3 billion. By the year’s end, Bitcoin had grown 17 times over, and the market cap is now at $284 billion.
Now entering 2018, the reasons behind Bitcoin growth are clear. As mainstream media coverage continues to generate widespread public interest, more people are seeing the benefits of using digital currency as store value, known as “Gold 2.0” and a means to transfer assets. This will undoubtedly lead to even more investment in the ecosystem on both an institutional and individual level.
Next year will truly be the year of Bitcoin. As of today, the cryptocurrency market cap is $600 billion with Bitcoin representing roughly half. By the end of 2018, Bitcoin will be on track to add $1 trillion to the cryptocurrency market cap, raising it to $1.6 trillion – less than 18 percent of the gold market cap. If this is the case, a single Bitcoin will be worth a bit more than $50,000.
The Bitcoin network is at an ideal position to grow and target mainstream adoption for a number of reasons, including the rise in demand from institutional developers, an active development community and low volatility rate. New laws recognizing Bitcoin as legal tender in several countries, such as Japan and the Philippines, have also played a key role in furthering continued growth.
Businesses are also beginning to see the benefits of Bitcoin, and more than a few have already started accepting it as a method of payment. Most notably, Japan’s Bic Camera announced last summer that it would provide a Bitcoin payment option, which resulted in nationwide media coverage and rapid industrial growth.
With governments like Venezuela already aggressively pushing to replace cash and take us into a different digital currency system – one with complete surveillance – the race for "The People's Currency" is well underway. Over the next 10 years, we’re going to see broader adoption of Bitcoin and other digital currencies that are based on a shared, borderless cryptographic ledger for financial independence and privacy.
People now have to make a choice: either be forced to adopt a centralized, unsecure and complicated system facilitated by the government, or adopt cryptographic, decentralized, transparent and secure digital money. While some populations will not have a choice but to adopt this new form of currency, others, like the U.S., will still have the luxury of choosing.