Cryptocurrency usage stats are increasing over time, as you’d expect with a nascent technology. So what could we expect over the next two decades? Metcalfe’s law, which says that as more and more people adopt a new technology—cell phones, for instance, or Facebook—its value goes up geometrically. But this isn’t even about just monetary value. This is about what form cryptocurrency will take and how it will affect us as a nation, as a culture, as people.
Here’s the honest truth: No. One. Knows.
Could you have predicted Amazon’s rise twenty years ago, or even ten? Amazon made its first sale in July 1995, and ten years later, it had begun selling other items besides books, and its Prime service debuted. But it wasn’t yet the behemoth it is now.
Consider Spotify, Kickstarter, 4G wireless technology, drones, Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, Tesla, or YouTube (and a thousand other things). None of them existed twenty years ago. And in a way, they couldn’t have been imagined–until someone did the work and conceived the ideas, built the infrastructure and companies, raising money along the way to do it, and produced actual products and services, which we all now take for granted.
And now that’s happening in crypto. And in some ways, it’s happening under our noses. It’s going to take time. Most of these experiments will fail. Most coins will fall off into zero value, as people migrate to other coins and usage plummets. As regulations zero in on bad actors. As innovations disrupt existing models and the technology grows and becomes easier to use, so people will adapt.
The cryptocurrency market is in its growing pains stage, with lots of uncertainty and awkwardness as the tech shakes out poor players and weeds out all but the best. We have yet to see a purge of the system, such as the dot-com bust that slaughtered companies wholesale; my gut tells me we’re still a couple years away from that kind of shakeup. But when it happens, there will be a period of mourning and anguish and thinkpieces about what a curious and terrible experiment cryptocurrency was.
But from the ashes will emerge the victors, and new competitors, with new ways of solving problems and achieving higher aims and purposes than anyone now can conceive.
People will change their behavior because crypto is a game-changer, like the Internet and the smartphone. So what’s going to happen over the next twenty years? No one knows. But I do know this:
Crypto is here to stay.