When you see a report based on a survey that suggests that 18-24 year olds are more confident that they know what Bitcoin is than a tracker mortgage, you tend to get a couple of reactions.
One is that you are getting old. The other is that the world is changing, fast.
Mind you, the overall result was that almost half of the respondents were not confident they knew what Bitcoin is – but they were more confident of that than they were about tracker mortgages, which presumably they think is a form of lending that stalks you in a spooky way, and leaps out at you when you fall behind with repayments.
The point is that there is enough Bitcoin awareness out there among the youngsters that it appears Bitcoin will become a mainstream currency – albeit perhaps not in the next year or two.
The fact that Bitcoin is mentioned in a survey of consumer-leaning financial terms, and the fact that 18-24 year olds know about it, means that they are in the right age bracket to make money out of it by adopting it, exploiting it and selling it in a million different ways. Just like people do with grown-up currencies.
There is a law that says the technology that is prevalent when you are born is not a technology because it is how the world works when you become aware of your surroundings. The technology that emerges when you are 16 is something that you will try to hack, exploit and use to get free stuff. The technology that emerges when you are around 24 is what you will spend your business life exploiting. And whatever emerges when you are 34 or more is simply ‘not going to work/will never catch on/not the way the world works’.
Right now, the press is busy trying to predict when the Bitcoin bubble will burst. Whichever prediction is right on the timing, the Bitcoin bubble will burst and lots of people will be hurt and wiped out and angry without any real right to be.
But that is what happens with really new stuff. We get all dotcom excited, all IoT on fire, all 5G fired up, then disappointed when the hype dissipates or the bubble of excitement explodes. Then reality hits and everything starts again, generally with a little more care, reason and possibly governance.
What is sure is that the generation that roughly understands what Bitcoin is also happens to be the same generation that will not need a tracker mortgage, will not need to own a car and certainly will not need a traditional bank that has branches and old stuff (like people) attached to them. In the context of the general disruption we’re seeing in the traditional banking and finance sector, the 18-24 year olds have a far different concept of what currency and financial services should be. In a world where you can buy everything online and pay for things with a smartphone, Bitcoin – and cryptocurrencies in general – makes perfect sense.
Which means that, whatever the short-term prospects for Bitcoin – its futures, derivatives and other volatile scariness – the long-term prospects for Bitcoin seem pretty damn good.