Digital currencies, with Bitcoin at the forefront, have made huge strides in just the past few months. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple – the top three digital currencies by market capitalization – have each grown substantially in price over the past few months. More and more currencies are entering the field, and new firms and institutions are cropping up all the time, thanks to a wave of initial coin offerings, or ICOs.
What's more, pre-existing financial institutions are slowly coming around to the idea that cryptocurrencies can be a worthwhile area of investment, with banks adopting blockchain software and entering the digital currency asset world as well. (See also: Volatile Times Ahead for Bitcoin, Goldman Says.) And yet, the process by which digital currencies have entered the mainstream has been very slow. Yes, the customer base has been growing alongside the volume of cryptocurrency trades, but most parts of the world seem to still be a long way off from seeing regular transactions conducted in digital currencies. What could help to bring cryptocurrencies to the masses?
Cryptocurrencies as Rewards?
In an opinion piece for Coin Desk, Rich Svinkin of Jaywalk.me shares his views about how cryptocurrencies can generate increased interest among a wider population base. As CEO of Jaywalk.me, Svinkin is involved in a startup which aims to increase physical activity among customers using brick-and-mortar retail reward systems.
Svinkin sees ICOs as a "great engine of growth" for the cryptocurrency world, but he believes that they have so far failed in bringing about widespread adoption of cryptocurrency by the larger masses. Svinkin draws a parallel between cryptocurrencies and computers, saying the early days of computers saw users limited to those who had a deep understanding of the complicated coding which powers the machines. It was only when that coding was hidden behind a simple user interface that computers became widely popular. Then, users could begin to learn about the underlying workings. They did so, however, only after learning to use the basic interface.
Svinkin argues that the complicated "command-line" in the cryptocurrency world is giving way to a more generalized heuristic. He believes that we have yet to see a transformative figure or currency that is making the world more easily adoptable by the larger population base.
Dangers of Risk
The other major barrier that Svinkin points to is risk. While he indicates that "modern operating systems mitigate risk immensely," risk is inherent in cryptocurrencies. For that reason, he suggests treating them not as currencies for the time being, but as rewards.
He points to services like Steemit, Bitwalking, Metal, and Brave – all of which reward users in cryptocurrencies for a variety of tasks. Svinkin believes that this will engage a wider base with the basics of cryptocurrencies, allowing for large-scale adoption.