The Future of Bitcoin Is Not as a Digital Currency, WIRED

The Future of Bitcoin Is Not as a Digital Currency

The Future of Bitcoin Is Not as a Digital Currency

Circle unveiled itself at a bitcoin conference in 2014, vowing to take the digital currency mainstream . But like so many other startups that embraced this big idea at around the same time, its mission has switched.

In January, I met Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire for coffee in San Francisco. Even then, he was careful to paint his company not as a bitcoin operation but as an garment that would help people lightly trade good old-fashioned dollars with friends and family via a fresh smartphone app. And now, as it announced yesterday, Circle will no longer permit customers to buy and sell bitcoin .

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Allaire says that Circle, a marquee startup backed by Goldman Sachs, never indeed spotted bitcoin as a consumer technology. "When we founded this company three years ago, the vision was never to build a bitcoin company," he says, comparing bitcoin to internet protocols like http or smtp. In other words, the company eyed bitcoin as a behind-the-scenes technology, not as a mainstream digital currency that the average person would use to pay for goods online or in a physical store.

Well, all these years later, bitcoin is certainly not a mainstream digital currency. And Circle's decision to stop operating as a bitcoin exchange is just the latest sign that it won't become one anytime soon.

Despite big promises from early adopters, bitcoin is still plagued by tax and regulatory issues. And the bitcoin community is still fighting over its core technology —a fracas that could significantly hamper bitcoin's capability to expand in the near future.

As it backs out of services that let people buy and sell bitcoin, Circle is pointing these customers to another exchange, San Francisco-based Coinbase. But Coinbase is also moving away from services for consumers. It's now focusing on running a fresh exchange where large institutions, not individuals, can budge bitcoin. And as far back as February, Coinbase said it didn't indeed want to operate as a bitcoin wallet , meaning it didn't truly want to provide a way for individuals to hold the digital currency and actually buy stuff with it.

In other words, like Circle, Coinbase is moving away from bitcoin as a digital currency and towards a world where it serves as the underpinning for other financial services. (The company is also facing its own legal headaches: Last week, a federal court ruled that the IRS could serve Coinbase with a summons that seeks information about its user accounts.)

Bitcoin has not become a mainstream currency—and it won't anytime soon.

Still, as bitcoin's prospects as a mainstream digital currency fade, Circle and many other companies believe that the blockchain, the distributed online ledger that underpins bitcoin, can serve as the basis for other applications and services. The bitcoin blockchain helps drive Circle Pay, the app that lets you trade dollars with friends and family. And the company just unveiled a fresh open source project called Spark that seeks to use the blockchain and similar distributed ledgers as a means of moving all sorts of currencies, something so many others are working on . Meantime, garments like the R3 consortium are building fresh blockchain technology for big banks and other financial operations that can oversee the movement of stocks and potentially anything else that carries value.

That said, many of these efforts are also a long way from truly happening. Goldman Sachs and three other institutions just pulled out of R3, and however R3 managing director Charley Cooper plays this down, the truth is that many big players are still uncertain how these technologies will play out. The future of bitcoin and the blockchain remains unclear. What is clear is that two thousand sixteen is not the year they went mainstream.

The Future of Bitcoin Is Not as a Digital Currency, WIRED

The Future of Bitcoin Is Not as a Digital Currency

The Future of Bitcoin Is Not as a Digital Currency

Circle unveiled itself at a bitcoin conference in 2014, vowing to take the digital currency mainstream . But like so many other startups that embraced this big idea at around the same time, its mission has switched.

In January, I met Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire for coffee in San Francisco. Even then, he was careful to paint his company not as a bitcoin operation but as an clothing that would help people lightly trade good old-fashioned dollars with friends and family via a fresh smartphone app. And now, as it announced yesterday, Circle will no longer permit customers to buy and sell bitcoin .

Related Stories

Stellar Emerges From Shadow of Bitcoin to Find a Home Overseas

A Bitcoin Exchange Just Got Approval to Operate Across the EU

The Schism Over Bitcoin Is How Bitcoin Is Supposed to Work

A Concept Gadget Gives Digital Currency That Real Money Feel

Allaire says that Circle, a marquee startup backed by Goldman Sachs, never indeed witnessed bitcoin as a consumer technology. "When we founded this company three years ago, the vision was never to build a bitcoin company," he says, comparing bitcoin to internet protocols like http or smtp. In other words, the company witnessed bitcoin as a behind-the-scenes technology, not as a mainstream digital currency that the average person would use to pay for goods online or in a physical store.

Well, all these years later, bitcoin is certainly not a mainstream digital currency. And Circle's decision to stop operating as a bitcoin exchange is just the latest sign that it won't become one anytime soon.

Despite big promises from early adopters, bitcoin is still plagued by tax and regulatory issues. And the bitcoin community is still fighting over its core technology —a fracas that could significantly hamper bitcoin's capability to expand in the near future.

As it backs out of services that let people buy and sell bitcoin, Circle is pointing these customers to another exchange, San Francisco-based Coinbase. But Coinbase is also moving away from services for consumers. It's now focusing on running a fresh exchange where large institutions, not individuals, can stir bitcoin. And as far back as February, Coinbase said it didn't truly want to operate as a bitcoin wallet , meaning it didn't indeed want to provide a way for individuals to hold the digital currency and actually buy stuff with it.

In other words, like Circle, Coinbase is moving away from bitcoin as a digital currency and towards a world where it serves as the underpinning for other financial services. (The company is also facing its own legal headaches: Last week, a federal court ruled that the IRS could serve Coinbase with a summons that seeks information about its user accounts.)

Bitcoin has not become a mainstream currency—and it won't anytime soon.

Still, as bitcoin's prospects as a mainstream digital currency fade, Circle and many other companies believe that the blockchain, the distributed online ledger that underpins bitcoin, can serve as the basis for other applications and services. The bitcoin blockchain helps drive Circle Pay, the app that lets you trade dollars with friends and family. And the company just unveiled a fresh open source project called Spark that seeks to use the blockchain and similar distributed ledgers as a means of moving all sorts of currencies, something so many others are working on . Meantime, garments like the R3 consortium are building fresh blockchain technology for big banks and other financial operations that can oversee the movement of stocks and potentially anything else that carries value.

That said, many of these efforts are also a long way from truly happening. Goldman Sachs and three other institutions just pulled out of R3, and tho’ R3 managing director Charley Cooper plays this down, the truth is that many big players are still uncertain how these technologies will play out. The future of bitcoin and the blockchain remains unclear. What is clear is that two thousand sixteen is not the year they went mainstream.

The Future of Bitcoin Is Not as a Digital Currency, WIRED

The Future of Bitcoin Is Not as a Digital Currency

The Future of Bitcoin Is Not as a Digital Currency

Circle unveiled itself at a bitcoin conference in 2014, vowing to take the digital currency mainstream . But like so many other startups that embraced this big idea at around the same time, its mission has switched.

In January, I met Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire for coffee in San Francisco. Even then, he was careful to paint his company not as a bitcoin operation but as an clothing that would help people lightly trade good old-fashioned dollars with friends and family via a fresh smartphone app. And now, as it announced yesterday, Circle will no longer permit customers to buy and sell bitcoin .

Related Stories

Stellar Emerges From Shadow of Bitcoin to Find a Home Overseas

A Bitcoin Exchange Just Got Approval to Operate Across the EU

The Schism Over Bitcoin Is How Bitcoin Is Supposed to Work

A Concept Gadget Gives Digital Currency That Real Money Feel

Allaire says that Circle, a marquee startup backed by Goldman Sachs, never truly spotted bitcoin as a consumer technology. "When we founded this company three years ago, the vision was never to build a bitcoin company," he says, comparing bitcoin to internet protocols like http or smtp. In other words, the company witnessed bitcoin as a behind-the-scenes technology, not as a mainstream digital currency that the average person would use to pay for goods online or in a physical store.

Well, all these years later, bitcoin is certainly not a mainstream digital currency. And Circle's decision to stop operating as a bitcoin exchange is just the latest sign that it won't become one anytime soon.

Despite big promises from early adopters, bitcoin is still plagued by tax and regulatory issues. And the bitcoin community is still fighting over its core technology —a fracas that could significantly hamper bitcoin's capability to expand in the near future.

As it backs out of services that let people buy and sell bitcoin, Circle is pointing these customers to another exchange, San Francisco-based Coinbase. But Coinbase is also moving away from services for consumers. It's now focusing on running a fresh exchange where large institutions, not individuals, can budge bitcoin. And as far back as February, Coinbase said it didn't truly want to operate as a bitcoin wallet , meaning it didn't truly want to provide a way for individuals to hold the digital currency and actually buy stuff with it.

In other words, like Circle, Coinbase is moving away from bitcoin as a digital currency and towards a world where it serves as the underpinning for other financial services. (The company is also facing its own legal headaches: Last week, a federal court ruled that the IRS could serve Coinbase with a summons that seeks information about its user accounts.)

Bitcoin has not become a mainstream currency—and it won't anytime soon.

Still, as bitcoin's prospects as a mainstream digital currency fade, Circle and many other companies believe that the blockchain, the distributed online ledger that underpins bitcoin, can serve as the basis for other applications and services. The bitcoin blockchain helps drive Circle Pay, the app that lets you trade dollars with friends and family. And the company just unveiled a fresh open source project called Spark that seeks to use the blockchain and similar distributed ledgers as a means of moving all sorts of currencies, something so many others are working on . Meantime, garments like the R3 consortium are building fresh blockchain technology for big banks and other financial operations that can oversee the movement of stocks and potentially anything else that carries value.

That said, many of these efforts are also a long way from indeed happening. Goldman Sachs and three other institutions just pulled out of R3, and however R3 managing director Charley Cooper plays this down, the truth is that many big players are still unassured how these technologies will play out. The future of bitcoin and the blockchain remains unclear. What is clear is that two thousand sixteen is not the year they went mainstream.

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