bitcoin, virtual currency, digital currency, digital payment

Published: February 10th, 2015

Global cryptocurrency transactions will more than halve in value from $71 billion in 2014 to $30 billion this year according to market firm Juniper Research.

Windsor Holden, who authored the report entitled “The Future of Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin & Altcoin Impact & Opportunities 2015-2019” was quite pessimistic towards the future of cryptocurrencies as a payment protocol, saying that the public may ultimately be unwilling to pay with it directly.

However, the mechanisms behind cryptocurrencies that enable quick, secure payments have applications outside of the niche technology, according to Holden.

“We would argue that it has significant potential as an enabler of payment,” said Holden in a blog post.  He cited Ripple Labs, which has both created a cryptocurrency as well as an IP-based technology that allows banks to settle transactions in real-time via a distributed network as the key example.

“By enabling real-time bilateral settlement and liquidity management for FX transactions, the protocol then opens up the potential for banks to add comprehensive transaction traceability and reporting, together with additional reconciliation information,” he said.

Key challenges facing cryptocurrencies include high-profile thefts and collapses of currency exchanges like the Tokyo, Japan-based Mt. Gox last year due to possible fraud, and regulatory concerns over shady businesses.

Even with retail adoption and support from companies like PayPal, the report argues that regulation is needed to legitimize and stabilize values.

“Regardless of which Tier 1 retailers enable Bitcoin payments, the public will remain wary of embracing Bitcoin unless and until these issues are addressed,” said Holden.  “The more high-profile breaches we see, the less likely Bitcoin is to gain mass adoption.”