We all know that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are definitely not as safe as houses. And when the Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett himself, says that Bitcoin is “rat poison, squared”, opinion tends to harden from “I know that” into “Of course, that’s what I’ve been saying all along.” As Buffett said on CNBC television, “It does create a rising price, creates more buyers … If you don’t understand it, you get much more excited. People like to speculate, they like to gamble.”
Depressing as that sounds for Bitcoin, blockchain technology itself is not exactly catching on. This is not because the technology doesn’t work or isn’t ready, it is because people basically cannot get their heads around it.
A new Gartner survey found that “77% of CIOs surveyed said their organization has no interest in blockchain technology and/or no action planned to investigate or develop it.”
Once again the ‘elastic band’ of technology has stretched to the point where it feels as if it is about to rebound. And, once again, it is all in the mind. As David Furlonger, vice president and Gartner Fellow says, “blockchain continues its journey on the Gartner Hype Cycle at the Peak of Inflated Expectations. How quickly different industry players navigate the Trough of Disillusionment will be as much about the psychological acceptance of the innovations that blockchain brings as the technology itself.”
How true – not only of blockchain, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, but also money itself.
Many people have been predicting the death of cash for several years – the death of the chequebook for even longer.
Now the CEO of PayPal, Dan Schulman, believes that credit cards will be almost completely obsolete in just a few years. Yes, well he would, wouldn’t he, as CEO of PayPal. But the reality is that common sense holds the real answer.
Societies move and develop at different paces. People move and develop at different paces, and they will pay for things and invest in things that they want to. If cash is the most convenient option, then cash it is; if you can swipe a credit card, then that’s the way to go; PayPal, why not?
And the fact that cryptocurrencies, Mr Buffett’s rat poison, are highly volatile because no one understands them is no bad thing. Very few people understand spread betting, but still do it. Besides, companies consciously make things complicated and opaque so that they get more money out of customers. The game sensation Fortnite is so adept at charging tiny incremental amounts for a new battle axe or piece of cool armour, that their customers hardly notice that they spent $60 yesterday.
We have been preaching about an omni-channel, or at least multi-channel world for some years now. We must therefore practice what we preach.
If you fancy a gamble, then why not have a punt on Bitcoin, alongside a broad portfolio of exciting and less exciting stocks, currencies and what have you. If you want to pay with folding money, fine. If you want to pay with PayPal, cool.
Until there are very good reasons to either write things off, or overly hype them, we should be prepared to accept everything – in both senses of the word.