Cryptocurrencies’ popularity blasts through the roof. In fact, the search term “buy bitcoin” is being used more than “buy gold” – an indicator of people’s behavior toward buying/selling or investing in cryptocurrencies, specifically bitcoin.
So, it’s safe to say that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are supported by many, right? Well, not necessarily.
A recent survey conducted by YouGov on more than 1,000 American adults interestingly reveals that their attitude toward cryptocurrencies isn’t all that positive.
In this session of Q&A, we talk with James Turner, the Managing Director of Turnerlittle.com, discussing the findings from the YouGov survey, as well as offering his insight on what’s the future hold for everything related to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Read on.
Ivan Widjaya (Q): Mr. Turner – many thanks for the opportunity to have a Q&A with you. Please kindly introduce yourself to our readers.
James Turner (A): Thank you very much for this opportunity. My name is James Turner and I am currently a director at Turner Little Ltd. I have twenty plus years’ experience of specialising in the incorporation of companies internationally and ensuring the arrangement of their wealth protection as well as management.
Q: I’m a big believer in cryptocurrencies (and the blockchain technology.) But some of our readers aren’t sure what they are or what they do/can do. Can you brief us a bit about cryptocurrencies?
A: Cryptocurrencies are decentralised digital currencies. Unlike traditional fiat currency – they are not controlled nor regulated by any governments, banks or financial establishments. One of the biggest unique selling points of cryptocurrencies are that they are highly secure – this is primarily enabled through the blockchain technology.
Blockchain is essentially a shared digital ledger which records all transactions of a certain cryptocurrency using open-source software. These transactions form groups of blocks, which are then cryptographically (the process which converts legible information into an almost uncrackable code) linked to one another. Information recorded on the blockchain is transparent and safeguarded from human or software error, as its hosted by millions of computers worldwide rather than being stored in one single location.
Q: Your company recently analysed the survey results on Americans’ attitude toward cryptocurrencies. Please kindly share what you discovered.
A: The findings from the research were certainly fascinating. With respect to what Americans thought people used cryptocurrencies for, the majority seemed unsure or unaware, as 40% stated they “don’t know”. Interestingly though, 29% of Americans did think people used cryptocurrencies mainly for “purchasing illegal goods/services through the dark web”. Further on, when asked if they would be interested in using a cryptocurrency instead of US dollars, an overwhelming 64% of Americans said they would not be interested in making the switch.
Looking into the future, 35% of Americans do believe there will be a wider acceptance of cryptocurrencies as a mean of transaction in the next 10 years. Though, 28% don’t consider this to be the case and 37% simply have no idea. Moreover, 51% of Americans don’t think cryptocurrencies in the next 10 years will replace traditional currency. A minority of 18% contrastingly felt the opposite, with the view that cryptocurrencies will put traditional currency into extinction.
Q: Many Americans – people around the world, actually – seem not too sure about cryptocurrencies. Why do you think they have such negative attitude toward and weak interest in cryptocurrencies, given the potential upsides?
A: It’s difficult to explain considering how extensively cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have featured in the public eye over the past two to three years. Their rise has been astronomical. I think the underlying negative attitudes towards cryptocurrencies exist because of their unwarranted association with unscrupulous individuals and groups looking to avoid detection from engaging in criminal activities. This notion can be seen through the devastating WannaCry outbreak earlier this year, where ransom payments were demanded in Bitcoin after thousands of computer systems across the world were locked down by malicious ransomware.
With regards to the weak interest, I think a lot of it is got to do with it being a relatively unknown entity. People have a hard time comprehending what they don’t understand. Cryptocurrencies and all the processes which underpin it are sophisticated. For someone without any prior knowledge or awareness of cryptocurrencies and how they work, it can feel daunting. Especially when buzzwords aligned with cryptocurrencies are being thrown around. Consequently, I think this correlates to a lack of interest and appetite for learning more about cryptocurrencies amongst individuals.
Q: What’s your view on ICO?
A: So just to start off, for those that don’t know or understand what initial coin offering (ICO) is, it’s an alternative way for start-ups to raise funds without going to banks, venture capitalists or selling stocks through an initial public offering. Start-ups raise money by creating and selling their own virtual currency, usually using similar protocols and processes which support established cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
I personally think it is fantastic. Young start-ups have a lot of ambition but often find their growth stagnating due to a lack of cashflow. This unfortunately means they can’t invest in various aspects of their operations which would allow them to realise their short and long terms objectives. Off course, they could go to banks or venture capitalists, but with such avenues being overly rigorous and the chance of getting unfavourable terms likely, it might end up being too risky. Especially in the case of venture capitalists, where start-ups could give away more equity than intended. So ICO does not only bypass such roadblocks but with it being open to the general public, it means anyone in the cryptocurrency ecosystem can part-take if they like the project in hand. ICO therefore not only provides greater exposure but is a much quicker process without all the excessive paperwork and due-diligence.
Q: I’m having trouble in getting my clients onboard with bitcoin payments. I’m sure many business people experience the same issues. What are your suggestions with regard to onboarding clients and customers to transact using bitcoin?
A: Great question. I think there are many layers to this question. A point which I alluded to earlier was education. Understanding cryptocurrencies can be a mind field. It’s an intimidating process to learn how cryptocurrencies are created and can be used. With this in mind, I believe it’s our responsibility to cypher through all the technical processes as well as terminology which is in the realm of cryptocurrencies and make more digestible for clients/customers.
It’s also important to create a rapport with clients and customers whereby you make them aware of reputable individuals and companies building momentum to positively evolve cryptocurrencies to a more wider audience. For instance, there are companies out three actively working to assist e-commerce merchants to integrate cryptocurrencies into their payment infrastructure in the most user-friendly way. Such strides are significant, as it signals a greater adoption rate of cryptocurrencies going forward for both clients and customers.
I think it’s also important to assure clients the mainstream capabilities of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. All the components which make traditional currencies easy to use are already in place for Bitcoin – Bitcoin ATM machines, Bitcoin wallets and Bitcoin payroll – it’s just a matter of time before a larger-scale rollout takes place.
Q: What do you think the future holds for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?
A: I think the future of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is very bright. Right now, off course Bitcoins seem unattainable because of their sky-high value but I believe as more individuals/companies use them there will be more liquidity in the market and thus the less volatile Bitcoin should become theoretically. Hopefully this in turn can have a multiplier effect where other individuals and companies feel encouraged to use Bitcoin.
One of the main factors which I believe could stagnate the development of cryptocurrencies is governments. The stance different governments take on cryptocurrencies could have monumental implications, particularly how they will see fit to regulate it. In some ways, I do think this will define how comfortable the public become with cryptocurrencies. I genuinely hope governments realise their true potential to become another more reliable, secure, quicker and cost-effective global payment system.
Many thanks, Mr. Turner, for sharing your insight.