Conventional thinking suggests that cryptocurrency and those who dabble in it are still on the fringe.
We are led to believe by the fake mainstream media, and by the likes of the most vocal anti-Bitcoin mouthpieces and economists Nouriel Roubini, that only people with a financial death wish would be foolish enough to buy bitcoins in order to shop online. Only the most sadistic among them would be foolish enough to invest thousands of dollars, if not more, buying coins as if they were stocks.
The fact of the matter is that should you have taken advice from this fool back in 2013 you would have missed out - BIG TIME!
The price of one Bitcoin hovered around $100 throughout 2013 and topped at just under $20k at the end of 2017. A $1000 investment would have given you around 10 bitcoins back in 2013, which you could have sold for around $200k in 2017. Even today those 10 bitcoins would be valued at around $40k.
Actual cryptocurrency owners know better than to sell all their coins. They know that there is real value in the coins they keep, value that goes above and beyond spreads against their favorite fiat alternatives. It is value derived from the decentralized nature of cryptocurrency. Nonetheless, it is still mind-boggling and somewhat irritating that so many people still misunderstand what cryptocurrency is all about.
Cheer up friends. The tide is turning. While those of us into online gambling appreciate all the finer points of depositing bitcoins to play slots online, the rest of the world is slowly waking up to the reality of what we already know. And guess what? There are signs that cryptocurrency has finally entered the mainstream. Below are just two of those signs.
1. Pop culture recognition
How do you know when something has gone from lurking in the shadows to mainstream acceptance? Just look in pop culture. Where cryptocurrency is concerned, one need look no further than a new Kurt Russell film scheduled for release in the spring. The film, aptly named Crypto, tells the story of a high-powered commercial banker who finds himself embroiled in a money-laundering scheme with cryptocurrency at its core.
The film is rather predictable in many of its subplots and individual scenes, including entangling the main character with bad guys from Russia. But what the story lacks in originality it more than makes up for in its embrace of crypto as a powerful thing. That is the good news. The bad news is that the film takes a decidedly negative stance against cryptocurrency by painting it as nothing more than a way for criminals to conceal their assets.
Given that Kurt Russell is an A-list actor who demands a lot of attention, it's easy to let the film's viewpoint slide. It is okay that Hollywood has a bad opinion of cryptocurrency. It's not for them anyway. Bitcoin was originally created as a decentralized monetary system intended to level the playing field between the haves and have-nots. Most that followed carried on the same philosophy.
Elsewhere in pop culture
Let's say you see the new Kurt Russell film and you are not fussed by the stand it takes. Fair enough. There are other places within pop culture crypto is starting to appear. For example, Showtime's Billions series first mentioned cryptocurrency in 2018. One mention turned into two, then three, until writers developed a short-lived story line that involved some of the program's main characters.
If you are into pop music, think back about five years ago when Snoop Dogg announced he would accept bitcoins as payment for his next CD. He gave another boost to crypto when he appeared at a Ripple event during the 2018 Blockchain Week in New York.
There are other examples, but we suspect you get the point. The fact is that cryptocurrency has made its way into pop culture through film, television, and music. This is important because the producers of said content expect consumers to know what it is they are seeing and hearing.
2. Calls for regulatory standards
Seeing crypto emerge in pop culture is a significant sign of mainstream acceptance. But we promised you two signs, so here's the second one: calls for regulatory standards. Hang in there and give us the opportunity to explain this.
New government regulations rarely come out of nowhere. They are almost always the direct result of some sort of scenario or circumstance government regulators feel they need to control. What other need is there to control something beyond the assumption that it is already close to being out of control?
Back in the early days of Bitcoin, conventional thinking maintained that it would go nowhere. People thought of Bitcoin as the fanciful dream of a utopian software developer who believed he could change the world by introducing a monetary system that governments and central banks could not control.
Power brokers laughed at Bitcoin specifically because it wasn't controlled by central banks. They were convinced back then - and some are still convinced today - that economies and monetary systems cannot exist without central banks propping them up.
The fact that regulators are now coming out of the woodwork says they recognize cryptocurrency has exceeded everyone's expectations. Furthermore, they fear allowing cryptocurrency to continue unregulated because they are also fearful that ignoring regulation now will lead to a system they eventually will not be able to regulate at all.
EU regulatory standard
One example of the call for new regulations comes by way of the EU's apparent plan to come up with blockchain standards for governing scalability and interoperability. And in Germany, regulators want to create a defined strategy for developing that country's blockchain economy.
In the EU's case, their concern is that the biggest players in cryptocurrency will eventually dominate the space if smaller players are not given a fair shake. They believe that those smaller players are currently hampered by a lack of interoperability and scalability standards. Despite their logic being flawed, EU regulators believe that the only way to create fairness in the marketplace is to bring blockchain under some sort of centralized standard.
Germany's regulators are not faring much better in their logic. Their main concern is that Germany will fall behind in the race to develop blockchain technology to such a degree that it will create a brain drain and invite crypto-based businesses to locate elsewhere in Europe.
Like the EU, their solution is control. Rather than taking a hands-off approach and allowing competition to play out, German regulators want to control the blockchain environment in Germany and manage it in the way they think is best.
What do both scenarios tell us? They tell us that European leaders have come to the realization that blockchain is not just a passing fancy. Nor is cryptocurrency. Those leaders can see the writing on the wall. They can see that cryptocurrency is gaining strength with each passing day, and they are fearful of letting it grow any stronger outside of their control.
Industry calls for regulation
We expect various national governments to try to get their hands into cryptocurrency and blockchain through regulation. After all, that's what governments do. We do not expect the same regulatory calls to be heard within the cryptocurrency industry. But guess what? Those calls are starting to be heard. The well-known Winklevoss twins are a prime example.
In the wake of the QuadrigaCX failure back in December, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are calling for stricter U.S. regulation to prevent any similar failures in the future. They believe that government control is the best way to address what many see as a user problem rather than a regulatory problem.
In case you missed it, the founder and CEO of QuadrigaCX died unexpectedly in late 2018. Unfortunately, all of the information relating to assets stored on his exchange were kept on his laptop and nowhere else. His wife could not get into his laptop to retrieve the information following his death. Nor could anyone else, apparently. So Cotton took somewhere in the neighborhood of $194 million in crypto assets to the grave with him.
The Winklevoss twins believe the failure could have been averted had the proper government regulations been in place. We assume they believe such regulations would have dictated how and where Cotton stored his customers' digital assets, allowing them to be accessed even after his death.
However, such assertions are to miss the point. The real concern here is that so many investors entrusted their assets to Cotton. The number one rule in cryptocurrency is to never trust your assets with anyone other than yourself. Remember that cryptocurrency is supposed to be decentralized. Exchanges are, by nature, centralized entities. They are counter-intuitive to the entire crypto principle.
The real way to guarantee such failures do not happen in the future is to educate crypto users about the need to maintain control over their own assets. Suffice it to say that QuadrigaCX customers have learned that lesson. They will never store crypto assets on an exchange again.
Crypto is here to stay
Pop culture references and emerging calls for regulation are two clear signs that cryptocurrency is now in the mainstream. It is no longer the domain of online gamblers looking to play slots with digital coins.
The good news in mainstream acceptance is that cryptocurrency is here to stay. It will certainly continue its evolution in the years to come, but we are long past the point of no return. Cryptocurrency will be an economic and technology influencer for decades to come, if not longer.