The advent of bitcoin and blockchain technology promises to usher in a new economic era. It’s decentralized, efficient, enables instant transactions anywhere in the world almost for free, and doesn’t require a third party to process. It’s quite simply a financial instrument for the next generation. This should particularly cause worry for the antiquated banking system, which can’t compete with the low cost and dynamism of bitcoin. While such worry has eluded the banks for some time, they’re finally started to come to their senses, bit by bit (pun absolutely intended).
Back late last year, MasterCard put out a video in which its South East Asia president stumbled through an embarrassing critique of bitcoin.
From the vague insinuating messaging to the spokesman’s visible discomfort, the video had all the trappings of not-so-subtle hit directed specifically at undermining bitcoin’s credibility. Clearly a sign of worry from a company that does essentially what bitcoin does, only much slower and more expensive.
Now, the CEO of Australia’s Westpac Group has come out with a statement on the threat posed by bitcoin, saying “I think it is a bit too soon to panic about it. It is potentially quite powerful from an efficiency point of view. It is one of the things we are keeping an eye on.” That’s hardly a calm, casual, offhanded comment on the rise of the banking system’s biggest competitor. Too soon to panic about your entire way of life ending means it’s too late to feel confident you won’t be completely supplanted.
As technology grows and the world changes and adapts alongside it, the old systems of control crumble away. We’re seeing this with bitcoin, behind the scenes, slowly but surely. Its rise to dominance won’t be highly public and flashy, but the signs of this transition will nonetheless be visible to those paying attention. The first few signals are starting to appear.
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