There can be no official point marked at which bitcoin changed from currency to commodity. But few would argue against the idea that this did indeed happen. Somewhere along the line in bitcoin’s young history, we stopped thinking of it as an alternative currency, much less a replacement currency, and we started to eye it almost exclusively as an asset. It could well be that this is the future for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as well – that we will simply trade them like we do stocks, or more accurately like we do oil and precious metals. Some, however, aren’t giving up on the idea that we could use bitcoin regularly. So purely as an exercise in imagination, it’s not a bad idea to think about what a world with bitcoin currency might look like….
The main thing that would change in terms of our moment-to-moment interaction with cryptocurrency is that a prevailing software wallet would become one of the most widely downloaded and used apps in existence. As of now there’s a selection of bitcoin wallets suited for mobile, and different ones are recommended for different reasons. Some are better for beginners, some are more complex but have better security, and some make transactions simpler. However, should bitcoin ever become a regularly used currency, it’s likely it would happen largely through one or two of these apps, and much of the world would simply learn to use and enjoy them.
In order to make this app useful, we’d need to see mass adoption of bitcoin acceptance not just online but at in-person stores. That is, even though bitcoin is meant to make digital transactions more convenient and secure, it will need to be easily applied to in-person buying options as well. What this means in the simplest possible terms is that point-of-sale machines and processors will need to work with the aforementioned wallet apps such that we can buy things with bitcoin in more or less the same way we currently use services like Apple Pay.
As an aside, it should also be mentioned that this culture of bitcoin spending would likely be build on a foundation of explosive use in a given industry or two. Two that come to mind, for entirely different reasons, are betting and coffee. On the betting front, bitcoin already provides a near-perfect option for users. New bookmaking platforms emerge online on a regular basis, and need to establish secure financial practices to welcome new users, with bitcoin being well enough suited to the idea to take off, to some extent, in the industry. As for coffee, it’s simple: this is the area in which we tend to make the most digital transactions in our real lives, and thus the easiest place for bitcoin payments to take over without our having to change our habits. In other words, if you’re already scanning a Starbucks app on your phone when you buy coffee, you can just as easily be using a bitcoin wallet.
This would also all likely have happened at the expense of other cryptocurrencies. If bitcoin takes off through specific means and then starts to become widely used as a real world payment option, it’s very unlikely that competing cryptocurrencies will experience a similar evolution. Now, there are still those who argue that bitcoin is inferior and that its competitors are improvements upon it. But right now it is very difficult to imagine any of these competitors winning out even if they might be superior in certain ways, strictly speaking. Thus, in this imagined world in which bitcoin truly does become useful currency, it would appear likely to do so alone.