The great frontrunner of the cryptocurrency world, Bitcoin has hit a snag in growth. While the blockchain distributed ledger technology behind cryptocurrency is certainly in the process of revolutionizing the technological and financial world, and while Bitcoin itself continues to grow in value and stability, its original mission of revolutionizing the world of payments is dragging on. The technology has thus far failed to strike the perfect balance of low cost, ease of use, and security of funds for the average user in order to gain mainstream adoption.
Bitcoin: Stagnating, Or Simply Shifting Focus?
According to Rijk Plasman, founder of Dutch cryptocurrency Gulden, Bitcoin is stagnating because it has become centralized in the hands of the select few, while its community has either no interest or no ability in expanding its use to the public at large:
“Obviously Bitcoin is stagnating, 70% is distributed to the lucky few who seem to have no interest in getting it in the hands of the general public. Or they don’t know how. It’s difficult to fix something like that and in my opinion a waste of time. It’s just waiting for a better alternative that learned from Bitcoin’s mistakes and understands how to reach the general public.”
Eric Sammons, a member of the Dash development team, does not hold the view that Bitcoin is stagnating, but rather that it is simply shifting away from its original goal of being an effective payments system:
“I wouldn’t say Bitcoin is stagnating as much as it is going in a direction different from Satoshi’s original vision of a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Bitcoin is becoming more of a store of value than a payment system. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, and it can be something of great use for society.”
According to Plasman, Bitcoin’s issues have become difficult to address because of its decentralized structure, meaning that major development decisions are difficult to make because of a lack of unified vision:
“Well for Bitcoin, I don’t think they can, because of the extreme decentralization. Nothing major can be done without discussing it with the community and all the devs. You need devs that aren’t afraid to take difficult decisions. That have vision.”
Gulden Seeks To Gain Adoption By The General Public First
A Netherlands-based cryptocurrency, Gulden took the opposite approach of major coins and focused on usability for the average person. Named after the Dutch currency before the euro took over, Gulden has a number of features to make its adoption more attractive to merchants and customers, including a PRIME zero-confirmation function. By partnering with the Nocks app, Gulden can be easily transferred into euros. In addition, the app has a mechanism for instantly exchanging to Bitcoin, allowing it to be used at Bitcoin-accepting merchants as quickly as if the user had never held Gulden to begin with.
According to Plasman, the point of Gulden is in building mass adoption, not providing a direct alternative to Bitcoin:
“At the moment I don’t think there is one. What we are building will definitely attract the general public, but probably not the current Bitcoin community. And that’s fine, because we are focusing on the 99%, the people that just want something easy to use with the benefits of blockchain. But it takes time to build something like that.”
Dash’s Quest To Replace Credit Cards As The Premier Payment System
Originally a fork of Bitcoin named Darkcoin for its initial focus on private transactions, Dash has taken to a focus centered on user experience and governance. To make it more attractive to merchants as a payment system, Dash allows for InstantSend zero-confirmation transactions to be processed instantly and securely. It also involves a masternode network to decide key governance issues and finance the further development of the currency, as well as mix PrivateSend transactions for increased anonymity.
According to Sammons, a main goal of Dash is to supplant the outdated global credit card system as a universal form of payments, something that Bitcoin is not necessarily in the market to do:
“…we still need a superior digital payment system to replace our outdated credit card system (which was born in the 1950’s, before the Internet even existed). Dash is trying to accomplish that, unlike Bitcoin.”
Sammons believes that Dash may become the technology to become the premier global payment system, something that cryptocurrency as a whole has not yet managed to achieve:
“It seems to me that no crypto has yet been able to become a replacement payment system that is superior to our current one. But Dash is being the most aggressive at trying to achieve that, especially with upcoming release of Evolution.”