It has been hailed as the internet of money, criticised for fuelling an illicit trade in drugs and weapons, allegedly aided terrorism, been touted as a libertarian dream and as a way of flouting capital controls (although actual use cases in China, Greece and Cyprus are hardly conclusive).
Predictions on Bitcoin’s future have been as varied and optimistic as a reserve currency to rival the US Dollar, a threat to the Debit and Credit Card business models, a disruptor of remittance corridors (despite the challenges of the “last mile”) as well as the notarisation and document registration industries.
Yet the currency has also been dismissed and written off so many times there is an ironic collection dedicated to the subject and, lately, particularly amongst the financial industry as merely an interesting app on the far more interesting piece of technology: the “blockchain”.
Of all the conclusions to draw about Bitcoin, the last one is the most dangerous for banks. Whilst the debate over the merits of a ledger (open to anyone to contribute to as opposed to only trusted participants) is fascinating, even if banks are successful in developing some type of utility settlement coin as a way of improving reconciliation between counterparties