Global bitcoin adoption is stifled by a few minor issues that hopefully we could soon see overcome.
Recently, an image has been circulating that has been recreated from an old meme depicting bitcoin has a payment solution that circumnavigates third-party fiat currency institutions. The idea behind the original meme is that if everyone used bitcoin, we would have no need for banks, credit card companies or alternative online payments providers.
The new, repurposed image points out that when making and receiving payments even those who have already adopted bitcoin as a solution still use intermediary institutions to convert their bitcoin to fiat currency.
Volatility is often cited as a reason for the lack of global bitcoin adoption as a widespread means of payment. However, the volatility itself is simply a reflection of uncertainty derived from concerns about whether crypto will be accepted everywhere as payment. In the majority of first-world countries this is not a problem, but in a global economy that deals with developing nations, it becomes one. At some point, we all directly or indirectly deal with consumers or retailers who don’t have reliable enough internet access to use an entirely online payment system.
Cash provided by centralized financial institutions will always be a necessary evil so long as informal retailers lack permanent internet access.
Problems with adoption in developing nations
I travel a lot and work online, so I know only too well the trouble of internet access in many places. As I sit here writing this, I’m sitting in a beach shack in Mozambique, the 43rd country I’ve visited and one of the most remote. Out here, getting access to the internet is no easy task. WiFi is non-existent, and everyone must endure unreliable mobile data networks. In fact, my weak mobile data connection just dropped out as I wrote that sentence.
The shops, bars, and restaurants here all accept cash only, and I doubt many of them have even heard about cryptocurrency – let alone know how to implement it. Large exporters headquartered in the capital city may have the means to use a digital banking system but its unlikely the fisherman and farmers they work with do.
However, setting up a wallet or payment platform for businesses and individuals is an easy enough task that becomes easier with each passing day. The ability to offer and accept cryptocurrency as a method of payment should be an exceedingly simple task to overcome for almost anybody who knows how to download an app. Splitting bills, lending money to friends or buying a souvenir from a roadside vendor are all possible with simply two mobile phones and a mobile internet connection.
Naturally this problem will slowly resolve itself, but for now, it would seem the exponential growth of cryptocurrency is outperforming the speed at which WiFi and mobile data infrastructure is being implemented.
Education stifling global bitcoin adoption
Education and awareness is also a significant stumbling block and not only in countries considered to be less technologically advanced. In fact, citizens of developing nations are more quickly moving to adopt cryptocurrency in order to overcome the questionable nature of their own government issued currency. Many nations struggling with corrupt banking systems have exhibited a strong desire to move into an online, peer-to-peer digital economy – Venezuela being a prime example of adoption through desperation.
In many cases, adoption is more stifled in first-world countries by misinformed citizens who know just enough about cryptocurrency for it to be detrimental but not enough to understand its true value. Technically, there is no reason that the majority of European and North American populations haven’t already fully embraced an entirely autonomous, decentralized digital banking system.
Until we can address the problem of misinformation amongst those ready for adoption and combine it with improved internet access in developing nations, we may all be stuck in a cycle of supporting an outdated banking system. Once these problems are resolved, we should see a reduction in the frequency and volume of fiat-to-crypto transactions which, one would assume, will result in a less volatile, more function cryptocurrency market and possibly global bitcoin adoption.
Mark Hartley is an IT specialist, freelance writer, keen traveler, and blockchain enthusiast. He has worked on the trading floors of the world’s biggest interdealer broker in London and helped integrate crypto-services into IT trading systems. When he’s not searching for the world’s most beautiful beach, he’s nose deep in any crypto and blockchain related news.