For the past few years, many of the biggest players in the Bitcoin industry have talked about the need to build bridges to the traditional financial system. This sort of basic infrastructure has been in development by Coinbase, the Winklevoss twins and others, and it’s now getting to the point where user-friendly wallets and regulated exchanges are finally available to the masses.
Now that the base layer of services has been built, Coinbase plans to promote greater adoption of Bitcoin through the development and acquisition of new applications for the digital currency.
Actual Products for Users
In a recent Medium post, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong discussed the company’s overall vision for the future of Bitcoin and its product. While Armstrong would still like to see the company focus on making it easy for anyone to buy or sell bitcoins at the tap of a button, the Coinbase CEO also sees an opportunity for his company to help the industry grow through the development of killer apps.
In his recent post, Armstrong wrote:
“In the future, you’ll see Coinbase build or buy other apps in the space to help drive consumer adoption.”
Armstrong then used an analogy to the early days of the Web browser to bring home his point:
Now that Coinbase has made it relatively easy for much of the world to purchase bitcoins online, the company wants to provide its users with various products and services that take advantage of the digital currency’s unique efficiency offerings.
Financial Services and Internet Applications
Although Armstrong did not point out specific applications Coinbase may build or acquire, he has discussed some of the main use cases of Bitcoin in the past. In an interview from last summer, Armstrong pointed to the disruption of traditional financial services, the development of financial services in the developing world, and entirely new Internet applications as three key areas for Bitcoin.
In the case of the disruption of financial services, Armstrong views international remittances and peer-to-peer lending as two areas of interest. Armstrong’s point on the developing world mainly had to do with populations that have a large number of cellphones but no access to banking.
Lighthouse and decentralized prediction markets were mentioned as two possibilities for entirely new Internet applications made possible by Bitcoin. Armstrong added, “These are very small today, but I think in the future, some of these will end up being multi-billion dollar companies and systems.”
Armstrong has also discussed the value of using Bitcoin for microtransactions.
More Futuristic Use Cases
More recently, Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam discussed Bitcoin’s ability to remove banner ads and spam from the Internet. Ehrsam sees a future where the action of making a payment is no longer necessary and transactions can take place seamlessly in the background of various devices.
The concepts of paying for online content via microtransactions and automatically purchasing system resources are ideas currently being worked on by multiple companies such as 21 and Brave.
Kyle Torpey is a freelance journalist who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, NASDAQ, RT’s Keiser Report and many other media outlets. You can follow @kyletorpey on Twitter.