Over the past 10 years, Bitcoin has proven to be resilient and ahead of its time. With legal uncertainty, outspoken skeptics, contentious hard forks, and high volatility, Bitcoin continues to prosper as the most liquid and trusted crypto asset in the market. Today there are thousands of cryptocurrencies, hundreds of competing exchanges, and billions of dollars invested in related projects.
Bitcoin introduced more than just digital cash to the world. It introduced entire new ecosystems which are peer-to-peer and Turing complete – simply look at Ethereum and various decentralized exchanges. It introduced peer-to-peer micro-tipping, which is possible on major platforms such as Twitter and Reddit and ultimately changed the way we interact with money on the web.
Some argue that Bitcoin represents the third progression of the internet. Initially, the internet was meant to act as an educational tool, then it was meant to share information through social media, and perhaps the next step is to share and transact real value, globally, in a peer-to-peer fashion.
Most importantly, it changed the way the people view how currency works and placed a greater emphasis on personal responsibility and privacy.
10 years is a significant milestone, but Bitcoin is still not where it needs to be. Moving forward the industry needs to focus more on merchant adoption, scalability, and simple user interfaces. After all of the Ethereum ICOs and Bitcoin Improvement Proposals, the industry is ready to see practical value rather than theoretical value. Over the next 10 years we hope to see the Lightning Network come to fruition, ETFs enter the market, and millions of merchants accept Bitcoin as payment.
The Lightning Network is an off-chain scaling solution which will allow Bitcoin transaction to occur instantaneously with negligible fees. There is lots of hype around it and various companies are working to create more volume on the network. As the Lightning Network grows, so should the number of merchants accepting Bitcoin since they should be correlated. Many businesses both large and small will set up payment channels with the Lightning Network directly. At that point, Bitcoin will be a truly global, usable, and peer-to-peer digital cash system.
Lastly, competition will continue to grow amongst blockchain and non-blockchain schools of thought. There are protocols such as DAG and Mimblewimble, which differ completely from blockchain and have major projects behind them such as IOTA. With entirely different schools of thought, the decentralized revolution will continue to grow, and ultimately, more competition fuels more innovation.
As for legal regulation, we believe this will come with time. Many countries acknowledge cryptocurrencies, tax them, and regulate exchanges. While regulation needs to be fine-tuned, it is not what it is holding Bitcoin back at this point.
While the past 10 years have been exciting, we are even more excited for what the next 10 has in store.