Editor's Note: In this series, we take you inside the mind of Nicolas Cary, CEO of the popular Bitcoin wallet service Blockchain.info, for his expert insights on the latest Bitcoin news and trends.
It’s been a rocky road for Bitcoin over the last few months. Mt. Gox fell. Hackers hemorrhaged Silk Road 2. The feds taxed it. Dark Wallet cast a pall.
Now what? Leave the bad Bitcoin news in the dust and charge ahead on the good foot.
This seems to be the optimistic, fighter attitude of Nicolas Cary, the ebullient CEO of Blockchain.info, a U.K.-based Bitcoin wallet and block information service.
The Denver, Colo., native sees a bright, “bullish" future for the world’s first digital currency, even if it’s still widely misunderstood and regularly garners negative headlines.
Bitcoin’s future is so bright, Cary says, that many of us will save money because of the controversial cybercurrency in the near future -- even if you don’t own a single BTC.
We talked to Cary about the pioneering, widely misunderstood digital cash and why he has such high hopes for it, particularly as a frictionless payment network. Here’s what he had to say.
Entrepreneur: What are your predictions for what’s next for Bitcoin, over the next year or so?
Cary: Over the next year, a lot of people may start using Bitcoin without necessarily even knowing it. The way that will work is, you might be someone working really hard in the United States and you want to send some money to your family down in South America, so you might go to a local store and hand over some of the hard-earned cash you’ve made and they will actually use the Bitcoin network to transfer the value across the border, but basically for no fee, which will save you in the cost of doing that. If you were to use Western Union or MoneyGram today, sometimes they take 15 to 20 to 30 percent.
Even though you might not be in possession or custody of bitcoins, the currency, there are going to be services that most consumers end up using in the future that are relying on the Bitcoin payment network itself.
For people who are interested in Bitcoin, they can certainly go and buy some, but I think the technology itself, the network, is part of the value proposition. It will allow people and businesses to use it without, and kind of obfuscate, the complexity of some of the things that are intimidating to folks.
But the reality is the software has to get better. Bitcoin was successful very early on because it catered to a very technically forward audience, but the utility and need is very big, and I don’t think that anyone would debate that they’d rather be saving money if they could, and Bitcoin presents an option to live in a world of greater financial empowerment.
We have to build better software as an industry. We’re getting there. User interfaces are getting better. I want to get to a place where, if I wanted to send you a payment because we went out to dinner and we split the check, I just press on a picture of your face on my phone and it instantly sends you money. That’s where we have to get to and we will get there this year.
Entrepreneur: How soon will everyday commerce be powered by Bitcoin? When will we see Bitcoin as a payment system reach critical mass?
Cary: It’s still tough to say. You have to look at the momentum. A year ago today there were maybe 4,000 or 5,000 merchants on the entire planet that accepted Bitcoin. Now there are probably 40,000 to 50,000.
The story of ecommerce and Bitcoin is going to be a big one in 2014. You’ve already seen OKCupid, the world’s largest dating site, accept Bitcoin, Wordpress, the world’s largest blogging platform accept Bitcoin, TigerDirect, and and now DISH, one of the larger cable companies in the world, have announced that they will accept Bitcoin.
They’re going to do this because it allows them to receive a payment, basically just like cash, where they don’t pay any fees. All of these online retailers are constantly fighting to win that margin battle.
Because Bitcoin payments are like cash, merchants don’t have to surrender 2 to 3 percent fees to Visa, American Express, etc. It can mean the difference between huge profits and a loss when you consider their volume.
I think throughout 2014 one online retailer after another is going to start to accept Bitcoin and there are some really fantastic projects that are going to come online this summer, too. Lots of really smart entrepreneurs are coming into this space, really qualified teams, and I’m excited to see what happens.