Everyone seems to be abuzz about Bitcoin, the wildly popular cryptocurrency that works as something of an online payment system. Yes, it — or something like it — could potentially replace fiat currencies, but we still have a long way to go before that becomes a reality.
What is starting to gain a lot of traction, especially in retail, is contactless or digital payment systems. It still involves the exchange of good ol’ cash, only in a digital form — like using a credit or debit card.
Customers can, for example, walk up to a cash register and tap their phone against the kiosk to pay for their goods or order. This application extends to wearable devices and smartwatches, too.
It does highlight the fact that the world of finance and financial tech are changing, considerably, and may look entirely different even just a decade from now.
What does that mean for the industry? Several financial tech experts have shared their insights about the future of the market, including how cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies will shape things to come.
- Convenience Trumps All
One of the driving elements of new technologies or innovations is convenience through the improved efficiency or speed of payments and processing. Chip cards and contactless payments, for example, allow customers to quickly pay for goods without signing, or dealing with more conventional transaction activities.
The growing momentum toward faster, stress-free transactions is pushing everyone to modernize their systems. Paul Alfing, a senior retail consultant at Payments Advisory Group, said that’s exactly what will “stay key for success” in future applications.
“Consumers won’t accept a lot of hassle [anymore] to make a transaction. With the right use of data, a retailer will recognize its customer, [and] therefore the customer will not accept if he/she has to hand over credentials. And [they] will not accept if data isn’t used to make the payment seamless.”
He also went on to predict AI and machine learning will play a huge role in the future of “seamless shopping.” They will be used to speed up processes and deliver more efficient, personalized experiences. Cryptocurrencies are central to that idea because of their makeup. It’s a streamlined form of currency people can use to pay for goods and services, both online and off.
- The Hype Will Evaporate
Nearly everyone is quick to attribute blockchain technology for the vast supply of opportunity overflowing the financial tech market currently.
There are so many possibilities and options, it’s mind-boggling. But blockchain is the digital ledger or foundation for many cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and while it gets plenty of attention, the latter is what gets most of the hype.
The excitement is absolutely overwhelming and, in some cases, misplaced. That contributes to many feeling the same as Tadas Viskanta, founder and editor of Abnormal Returns.
Tadas said, “I need a blockchain vacation,” and for good reason. It also grounds the sentiment surrounding such technologies and highlights the fact that the hype will soon die down, and when it does, we can expect to see more practical discussions on the topic.
- Bitcoin and Crypto Will Remain Valuable
Regardless of buzz, volatility and market trends, one thing is certain: Bitcoin and successful cryptocurrencies like it will continue to be valuable. More specifically, the value of these currencies will continue to climb steadily.
Analysts such as Anthony Pompliano, Alistair Milne, John Pfeffer, Kay Van-Petersen and many others predict the booming value of crypto to continue for the foreseeable future. There may be dips, there may be sentiment changes, and general outlook may change, but the price and value will continue to grow.
- Alternate Coins Will Rise
Monero, Litecoin, Dogecoin — all these alternate cryptocurrencies are just as promising as Bitcoin. Several panelists have even predicted that Dogecoin — whose creators initially made it jokingly — will see a rise from its current price of 0.0036 cents by as much as 5,838 percent.
Crypto expert Mark Taker said, “2018 will be the year of the altcoin,” and he’s not wrong.
- Ambitious Players Will Disrupt FinTech
Paul Schaus, CEO of ccgcatalyst, said startups or new crypto and blockchain players aren’t the real threat to financial tech companies in the space. The real “crypto” disruptors will be ambitious players willing to innovate and experiment. He named both Amazon and Google for various reasons, but added their existing support structure and willingness to innovate are what make them so dangerous.
“Amazon is persistently butting into new industries with new products and services. It’s a tech company, a retailer, a logistics company, a media company and a payments company,” Schaus explained. “Its goal is simple: to be a one-stop shop for all the goods that its customers want to purchase. To accomplish [this], Amazon is constantly working to make its customers’ shopping experience more seamless, which includes simplifying payments.”
Large players’ willingness to enter the space could further advance cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies — we could see more mainstream ideas and concepts come to fruition. For example, imagine an Amazon-backed crypto you could use to buy goods and services through the major retailer’s site and partner portals.
- ICOs Will Be Legitimate and Professional
Over the coming year, it’s likely we’ll see more ICOs align with traditional venture fundraising and development strategies.
Julia Morrongiello, a major investor at Global Founders Capital and expert in blockchain and crypto, pointed out development platforms like CoinList will be the primary driver for more professional ICOs. A similar tool, Balanc3, affords crypto companies access to accounting and reporting tools akin to traditional fintech companies.
While there are certainly a lot of valid and powerful opinions here, this is not a comprehensive list. The world of crypto and financial tech is vast and varied. However, these experts opinions should give you a better idea of what to expect in cryptocurrency’s future.
Kayla Matthews is a digital currency and technology writer. You can find more of her work on Bitcoin Magazine, Cointelegraph and Nasdaq.com, as well as other publications. To read more tech posts from Kayla, follow her blog Productivity Bytes.