Coinbase On The ‘Killer App’ Phase of Bitcoin

The PYMNTS team caught up with experts in the payments field to ask them their views on industry trends, predictions for the future and what their ideal payments system looks like.

Here’s what Adam White, Vice President and Product Manager at Coinbase, had to say.

PYMNTS: In 2015, what have the big trends and opportunities been?

AW: In the bitcoin space, one of the big trends has been the recognition and adoption of the value behind blockchain technology. I think what we saw in 2014 was a lot of merchants and eCommerce companies lead the way with bitcoin adoption.

2015 has been less about merchant adoption and much more about large financial institutions taking a look at how not just bitcoin, but blockchain in general can help improve settlement and clearing efficiency. That’s been a big divergence from years past when it’s been much more educational — kind of at arm’s length.

PYMNTS: What are you expecting as you look ahead to 2016?

AW: I do think that, in 2016, that’s where we’re going to start to see a lot of the “killer apps” in the bitcoin space — the Ubers and Airbnbs. What’s something I can do now with bitcoin that I couldn’t do before? ECommerce is great, but I already had a pretty frictionless experience with credit cards.

For merchants, having someone pay me in bitcoins is better because I’m not at risk for fraud or chargebacks, there’s essentially no credit card fees — there’s a lot of benefit to me as a merchant accepting payment. But as a consumer, why am I incentivized to pay with bitcoin? It’s not a huge customer value proposition. What we’re seeing now is other applications built on bitcoin.

I think we’re going to see a lot of those take off in 2016.

PYMNTS: In a perfect world, how do payments work?

AW: To me, it feels like one where it’s barely even a thought that I’m paying. I think some of the best payment experiences are ones where they are truly frictionless — I’m not having to go through multiple levels of identifying and verifying my payment information. I’m not having to search for information, and it’s almost like a commoditized product.

Taking that to the bitcoin space, I think there are some things that bitcoin allows you to do that you can’t do with traditional payment methods. I think a nice payment experience for me is one that’s not only frictionless, but one that enables new behaviors.

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