Opinion: Bitcoin Will Go Mainstream Only When It’s Necessary

There have been plenty of discussions on what’s needed for Bitcoin to go mainstream. Some have argued that the fact that large institutions such as Fidelity and ICE’s Bakkt are getting involved will propel it to the masses. 

Others have maintained that the seemingly increasing popularity of Bitcoin ATMs, as well as the fact that Bitcoin is being accepted in more and more retail and commercial stores, is what’s needed. Yet, from all that, one truth emerges: Bitcoin will become mainstream only when it becomes necessary. 

Institutions and Their Role

Plenty of institutions have already announced their intention to enter the cryptocurrency space. Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s largest asset managers, recently confirmed that it is in the final testing phase of its new cryptocurrency trading platform. 

We also have Bakkt – the Bitcoin futures trading platform of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the owner of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The platform is expected to begin user acceptance testing any day now. It will offer physically-settled Bitcoin futures, which means that at the end of the expiration period users will receive an actual Bitcoin rather than its monetary representation. 

The question is, however, do these things even matter when it comes to Bitcoin going mainstream? Institutions can surely help spread the word, but will they propel actual usage of the cryptocurrency? It’s rather unlikely. By the looks of it, they will provide yet another way to gain exposure to Bitcoin’s price and speculate on its direction with the sole purpose of making profits. That’s not adoption. 

Retailers and Bitcoin ATMs

According to the popular crypto ATM tracking website CoinATMRadar, there are currently 5,223 cryptocurrency ATMs located in 77 countries. While that may sound impressive for an industry that’s rather nascent, when you think about it, it’s really not. Not to mention the fact that the majority of countries don’t have Bitcoin ATMs at all. 

On the other hand, we have seen a lot of popular retailers start accepting Bitcoin. Just in May, it was announced that Amazon-owned Whole Foods, as well as Nordstrom and Crate and Barrel, among other popular retailers, began accepting Bitcoin. There are plenty of online services that could be paid for using Bitcoin. And that’s good for the industry, there’s no doubt about it. 

However, whether or not it will further propel mass adoption is a completely different question. After all, giving someone the option to pay with Bitcoin doesn’t automatically suggest that they will do so. 

So When Will Bitcoin Go Mainstream?

All of the above will help, there’s no doubt about it. However, on their own, they’re not a propelling factor. 

It was recently said on Twitter that Bitcoin will become mainstream only when it “stops being a community and starts being a necessity.”

Indeed, in order for Bitcoin to see true mass adoption, people must need to use it. It has to be viewed not as a far-fetched alternative, however better it may be, but as an actual necessity here and now. 

We can clearly see that there’s a strong community revolving around the world’s largest cryptocurrency, but that’s about it. The actual usage is insignificant, and it remains a highly speculative asset which is mostly viewed as a profit-generating tool. 

Perhaps the clearest sign that Bitcoin has hit the mainstream will be when we stop valuing it in terms of fiat currencies. Indeed, 1 BTC is 1 BTC, not $10,000. The quicker this is realized, the sooner it will become mainstream. 

Publication date: 
07/22/2019 - 10:34