Brian Forde admits that bitcoin isn’t a no-brainer.
Right now it’s hard for most people to grasp the vast potential in the technology behind it, allows the director of digital currency at the MIT Media Lab. “Having this cryptocurrency is kind of a weird idea,” said Forde, who was previously a senior advisor for technology at the White House. “It’s hard to explain.”
But he believes the technology could quickly break into the mainstream with one development: a “hero app.”
Someone needs to create “that killer app that all of you are dying to download,” said Forde, just like Uber very quickly made the idea of what Forde called “digital hitchhiking” mainstream.
Forde made his comments during a panel discussion on digital currencies at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco on Wednesday. It’s a timely topic: The price of bitcoin has rocketed in recent weeks. After a long fall from its high of around $1,100 in 2013 to near $200 in August, bitcoin just jumped above $400.
One reason for that surge is a growing appreciation for the potential of the network that makes bitcoin function—the so-called blockchain, which acts like a giant ledger keeping track of who owns each bitcoin and when it