As the Bank of England and the Chancellor add their voices to the debate, 2016 appears to be the year that ‘blockchain’ or ‘distributed ledger’ currencies become, well, common currency.
Bitcoin has the highest profile, gaining a certain notoriety given the enthusiasm of criminal elements for hoarding ill-gotten gains anonymously, beyond the reach of governments, banks and regulatory bodies.
Although still a niche technology, the libertarian appeal of these ‘stores of value’ to support micro-payments and as protection against negative interest rates or politically-motivated monetary policy is undeniable.
However, it only takes a visit to an achingly-trendy Bermondsey coffee-bar, complete with Bitcoin ATM but no means of accepting the currency as payment, to realise there is a yawning gap of usability and relevance at present to the ‘real’ economy.
Inevitably, this technology must become more consumer-friendly to gain mass-acceptance. More to come on this later in the year…