A few years ago, Bitcoin advocates were touting its potential to transform the financial sector.
“What would happen if you and I could just exchange money without it ever going through a bank,” venture capitalist and early Bitcoin supporter Marc Andreessen asked me in a 2014 interview
Bitcoin could render banks obsolete much as the internet had rendered newspapers and record stores irrelevant, optimists thought. Eventually, the industry could be rebuilt with Bitcoin as its new foundation. I was one of the people who thought this vision was plausible.
But it’s becoming clear that companies like MasterCard and Western Union are in no danger of going the way of Tower Records. Venture capitalists have poured more than a billion dollars into Bitcoin startups, yet we seem to be no closer to making Bitcoin a mainstream technology. To a large extent, Bitcoin today is still used for the same applications — illicit transactions and financial speculation — that it was in 2014 and 2012.
“I think Bitcoin has stalled out,” said Nathaniel Popper, a reporter for the New York Times who wrote a book about Bitcoin in 2014.
What went wrong? The Bitcoin community has been hampered