Ignorance remains the biggest hurdle to cryptocurrency

28 October, 2018

Imagine a world in which cryptocurrency was as common as paper bills and minted coins. Imagine a world in which there was very little need for fiat currency because everyone dealt in crypto. That is a vision of the future held by a lot of cryptocurrency purists.

What about a world in which bitcoin gambling was not only the norm, but also the preference of casino owners and platform developers? It turns out that technology is not the big thing holding this vision back. The big thing is ignorance.

If you're old enough to remember the early days of JVC's VHS and Sony's Betamax tapes, you know that the two technologies squared off in a war of dominance that lasted several years. Sony made a very strong case that their technology and product was better. They ultimately lost the war. Why? Because they didn't do as good a job of informing people as their VHS colleagues did.

The lack of an effective messaging strategy led to millions of people having already invested in VHS machines long before they learned about Betamax. Those same people were not about to throw away their expensive VCRs to go spend even more money on a new Betamax machine. So despite beta being better technology, it fell by the wayside.

There are similarities between that old technology and modern cryptocurrency. Crypto clearly has a long list of advantages over fiat currency. And yet, comparatively few people are embracing it. A majority of people do not even know that cryptocurrency exists. And among those that do, very few really understand what it is or how it works.

Some have never heard of it

We trust you are very familiar with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. If nothing else, you have read about them somewhere, or on MegaMoolah.com. You might even be one of the regular readers who follow our site for bitcoin gambling news.

A recent Financial Knowledge Index study conducted in Chile revealed that only 39% of Chilean adults have heard of cryptocurrency before. That's amazing. As prolific as crypto is, the fact less than half of a nation's population even know it exists is pretty astounding. But it gets better.

Among those who have heard of cryptocurrency, they are most familiar with bitcoin. Other cryptocurrencies do not have nearly the same name recognition. Moving on, 51% of men in Chile have heard of cryptocurrency while the number among women is just 27%.

There are some other statistics from the study that might be interesting, but they are irrelevant to this discussion. The take-away here is that fewer than half of all adults in Chile have ever heard of cryptocurrency. And their situation is not unique.

There are large sections of the world that pay no attention to cryptocurrencies because their lives are not affected by them. There are nations where, because internet access is limited, people barely go online much less look into cryptocurrency. These are countries that are still several decades behind in both fiat currency and banking. Even if their citizens wanted cryptocurrency, they do not have the infrastructure to support it.

Others don't know how it works

Then there are large groups of people who are familiar with names like Bitcoin and Litecoin but have no idea how they work. Just go online and see for yourself. Search for blog posts and essays about bitcoin and you will quickly discover there a lot of people who have no clue about what a cryptocurrency platform is, how it works, and how people can actually transact business using crypto.

There are plenty of people who see photographs of supposed bitcoins and assume that the currency is just like fiat currency - with printed bills and minted coins. They have no idea that they are looking at a mere illustration of a digital token. They have no idea that bitcoins do not actually exist as tangible pieces of metal they can hold in their hands.

Go one step further by trying to explain blockchain and the same folks will display that 'deer in the headlights' look. Blockchain isn't hard to understand for people already familiar with the cryptocurrency concept, but it's total "greek" to someone who's never heard of it before.

Digital wallet confusion

The ignorance continues with digital wallets. As you already know, you need a digital wallet in order to send and receive crypto. You also know that the term 'digital wallet' is derived from the fact that a wallet's contents are not tangible. They are simply digital tokens, embedded in the blockchain and recognized over that blockchain's network.

People unfamiliar with cryptocurrency have trouble understanding the digital wallet concept. They cannot wrap their brains around having a digital wallet on a computer or mobile device instead of a leather wallet in a pocket. And because the digital wallet is not tangible, they have a hard time accepting that it can hold anything.

The problem with the digital wallet concept for most people is that it is abstract. And because it is abstract, they cannot understand how cryptocurrency can be used to conduct business.

Cryptocurrency in the real world

It is interesting to step back and observe the ignorance of cryptocurrency in the real world. A good example is Japan. As you know, Japan is considered one of the world's technology giants. There used to be a time, back in the 1980s, when people used to say that "all the best stuff comes from Japan." Yet despite their technological prowess, Japan hasn't kept up with financial technologies.

Did you know that the average Japanese consumer still conducts most business in cash? Just let it sink in. A November 2017 report from The Economist details how Japanese consumers pay for things. The report surprisingly explains that Japan's marketplace is not yet up to speed on things like debit cards and credit cards. If consumers are not using plastic yet, how can they be expected to use cryptocurrency?

Japan certainly has the technology to fully embrace crypto. And in fact, the Japanese government is now seriously considering how they intend to apply taxation to bitcoin transactions. So that tells us that the capability is there. What's missing is a knowledge of cryptocurrency among Japanese consumers.

In the real world, this plays out in interesting ways. Merchants capable of accepting both plastic and cryptocurrency still have to keep large stores of cash in-house. And because credit cards are used so infrequently, banks and credit card processors still charge exorbitant fees to make their money. So do crypto exchanges. Merchants tend to refuse both in order to avoid the fees.

What you have is a vicious circle that props up cash as the primary tool for doing business in a digital world.

Having said that, there's nothing wrong with using cash. I'll take cash (and crypto) over plastic every day and twice on Sunday.

Time will fix things

It is surprising to know how much ignorance still exists in relation to cryptocurrencies. But that is only because those of us in the West hear a lot more about it on a daily basis. We read about it in the newspaper, see it on television, and even look it up on the internet. Sometimes we fail to realize that there are people in other parts of the world that are not so immersed in information. It is among those people that cryptocurrency ignorance is most prevalent.

The good news is that time will eventually fix things. While we talk about things like bitcoin gambling and making casino deposits with Litecoin, there are organizations working extremely hard to bring consumers up to speed. They will eventually succeed.

It used to be that there were large areas of the world completely ignorant of the internet. But over many decades of education and infrastructure development things changed. We have now reached the point that only the most remote places on earth, and there are only a few of them, are still unaware of the internet.

The future of cryptocurrency will be similar. Over time, the entire world will come to know and understand what cryptocurrency is. Some governments will undoubtedly replace their fiat currency with a government created crypto alternative, and that will help tremendously.

The end of fiat currency

This post began by challenging you to imagine a world in which cryptocurrency was the norm. There are a lot of people with that vision. They are working to make it reality. They envision a day where there is no fiat currency as we currently understand it. They are looking to the day when all paper bills and minted coins have been replaced by digital tokens recorded on encrypted ledgers.

When that day arrives, and it will, the idea of bitcoin gambling will have an entirely different meaning. Rather than talking about how to buy and sell using bitcoin, we will probably be talking about the value of bitcoin as opposed to other cryptocurrencies. We will be talking about bitcoin gambling not as the exception to the rule, but the standard way of playing your favorite slots and table games.