The first Bitcoin conference
sponsored by the Bitcoin foundation was held this end of week in Amsterdam. All the large players in the Bitcoin world attended including Coinbase, Circle, BTC China, Coindesk, and the Bitcoin foundation team as well as many new promising entrants including Blocktrail
a new Bitcoin analytics, NXter
a Next coin soon to be released, and Cointerra
At first appearance it is clear that a diverse range of companies have risen out of Bitcoin leading to a momentum which has established Bitcoin as a valid E-based currency which is likely to enter the mainstream more with each coming year. Unless a devastating set of events leads to the mistrust of the early companies deeply invested in its value, it is today fairly well established to be the first real stepping stone into a virtual currency with an inherent value.
Houses, space travel, flights, every type of commodity from electronics to clothes to furniture can now be bought with Bitcoin so the value is there, and the next few years will unfold how this virtual currency will affect our world. Should Bitcoin replace fiat currency is a highly disputable argument, but at the event we saw the beginning of an ecosystem that will allow for trade of Bitcoin’s to enter the mainstream.
The most important step is making transactions simple, seamless, and proving the real value which is the immediate transfer of Bitcoins in a decentralized way. The opportunities with such a currency are endless, such as sending Bitcoin to unbanked people with minimal over sight and potentially reducing transfer fees.
One of the companies allowing for simple consumer transactions is Coinkite an ‘online bank for crypto currencies’ based in Toronto. Ceo and founder Rodolfo Novak explained how Coinkite has an incredibly secure wallet which guarantees to avoid a reoccurence of the Mt Gox fiasco.
What is particularly interesting is their merchant terminal, a new alternative to the traditional POS (point of sale) device, which allows for any shop to have a Bitcoin receipt printed or displayed on the terminal screen for them to simply take a picture which transfers Bitcoin. The advantage for shops to adopt such machines is to eliminate credit card fees (usually between 1-2%) and receive the money immediately (rather than 1-3 weeks as with conventional credit card companies).
Ripple is one of the most interesting twists on Bitcoin, having developed a new protocol for fiat currencies to be traded as well as Bitcoin, gold, loyalty points – any store of value. Ripple’s added value to the ecosystem is powering point-to-point, instant and free transfers between two stores of value. The currency native to Ripple is called XRP, which bridges cross-currency pairs.
Further development on the paper written by Ripple Labs’ Chief Cryptographer Mr. David Schwartz proving how the transaction time between money transfers can be less than 5 seconds. Ripple Labs has grown into a cash-flow positive company with over 50 employees in 2 years. David sincerely believes that Ripple can eliminate the inefficiencies of today’s banking infrastructure already having a few banks using the Ripple protocol, including Germany’s Fidor bank.
based in Israel, named after an ancient seashell that was used for barter in ancient Greece, has developed servers specifically for Bitcoin. These servers have only one purpose, which is to mine bitcoins full time. While many companies operate in this space, what is interesting to note is that this company in under a year of operation has raised over $5 million from noted VC’s BRM and Genesis partners.
Today they claim that they can mine 0.1 of a BTC every day with a $3, 200 server (with 1 BTC valued at around $450) thats a return of investment of in less than four months (putting aside electricity costs which fluctuate per region).
One of the largest set backs for Bitcoin has been the Mt Gox Saga which at one point led Bitcoin’s value to drop over 20% in a matter of days erasing hundreds of millions of dollars in value. Discussing Mt Gox with many key insiders, it seems that no one has any insight into the loss of over $600 million in value of Bitcoins yet everyone is skeptical of the reality of a true technical failure on such a scale, yet in a positive light Mt Gox has taken the early hit leading to an accelerated development in the security of Bitcoin as a whole which is one of its largest weaknesses.
Next years Bitcoin conference is guaranteed to be bigger with more new companies presenting so these are interesting times for a new currency coined by many as ‘changing finance like the internet changed information’.