The Bitcoin panel on day one of Techcrunch Disrupt had a rather bearish title this year with "Is Bitcoin Done?", but Xapo CEO Wences Casares and BTCC (formerly BTC China) CEO Bobby Lee were both able to make the case that the peer-to-peer digital cash system is here to stay during their remarks. Although it’s been a disastrous year or two for bitcoin in terms of its price in US dollars, there is still a large amount of development happening around the base protocol. It’s possible that Bitcoin has become a victim of its own early success during the late-2013 bubble, and now it’s time for real growth to take place in the industry.
Bitcoin Will Be Here for as Long as the Internet is Here
When asked whether Bitcoin is going to be around for a long time, Bobby Lee seemed almost confused by the question. He believes Bitcoin will be around for at least as long as the Internet, which means he sees it as the new standard for online payments -- much like the Internet is the standard for sharing information across the world. Lee explained his point during the panel discussion:
“It will matter for sure. Don’t get the wrong idea...The way I see it is Bitcoin is not going anywhere away the way Internet is [not] going away. So, if any of you think the Internet might go away, then Bitcoin might go away. As long as the Internet is with us, Bitcoin will be with us because it’s really the world’s first and most successful form of electronic money and value that’s not controlled by any government or system. Bitcoin is already moderately successful, I would say. The reason it is moderately successful is that people actually value this, so the genie is out of the bottle.”
Although many people, including some of the Bitcoin Core developers, would contend that Bitcoin is still an experiment, it seems that Lee believes the experiment is over and it has worked. Now that bitcoin has value as a digital asset class, it should continue to have value as long as people still find the system to be practical for a variety of different use cases.
It Makes Sense to Hold Some Bitcoin
While Wences Casares wasn’t as overly bullish as Lee during his comments, he is still definitely on the side of the debate where bitcoin goes “to the moon” and completely changes the world of finance. In fact, Casares shared some startling thoughts on where he believes bitcoin could end up as an investment over the long term:
“I am the most bias Bitcoin person I can imagine -- the most pro-Bitcoin person I can imagine -- and even then, I always tell people they shouldn’t own an amount of bitcoin they cannot afford to lose because I think there is a nontrivial chance that goes to zero. And by nontrivial I say 20 percent, but again, I am very, very bias. If there is a 20 percent chance that you can lose that money, you should not own amount of that that you cannot afford to lose. At the same time, I think that there is a higher than 50 percent chance that a bitcoin is worth more than a million dollars. So, today it’s at 200, so it’s a 4000 times -- the possible upside. So, I think it makes sense to have a little bit of bitcoin -- say 1 percent of your savings in bitcoin. It makes a lot of sense, but no more because it’s a super risky investment that has incredible asymmetry.”
When it comes to comparing individuals who think Bitcoin is done to people who believe the cryptocurrency will become the new reserve currency of the world, the reality is that both sides may be making predictions too early in the development of the network. It’s fun to make predictions on the future proliferation and price of bitcoin, but the truth is no one knows where this technology is going over the next few decades.
Kyle is a freelance writer who has been interested in bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on Business Insider, VICE Motherboard, Let's Talk Bitcoin, RT's Keiser Report, and many other media outlets. Follow the author on Twitter @kyletorpey