Cryptocurrency is likely to gain traction, however several factors will mitigate its utilization as a standard payment form in the B2B supply chain by 2020, such as eventual government regulation, technological fears, and hacker intrusions. The more inroads cryptocurrencies make, the more likely governments will follow with a strong regulatory stand. It is sort of a catch-22 situation.
Cryptocurrency is here to stay. The best example of this is BitCoin’s (BTC) expanding presence in the market as both a consumer and B2B form of payment. Its ease of use across international borders, as well as its ability to instantly turn BTC to cash, has led to its early adoption and success. And this process will continue to improve in terms of convenience and efficiency. As the world’s first EMS provider to accept BTC, we have already transacted millions of dollars in BitCoin payments with no risk.
Cryptocurrency is one of those ideas that looks better on paper than in practice. While the technology enabling cryptocurrency, like BitCoin, is fascinating, the unpredictability and volatility of cryptocurrency valuation make this payment form far too risky for many businesses—particularly lower-margin enterprises like distribution. And, with the massive cyber security breaches of the past year, confidence in the ability of banks and other institutions to safeguard these transactions is virtually non-existent.
The convenience and cross-border nature of cryptocurrencies is likely to continue to be part of the payment options demanded by the global supply chain in the years ahead, so there will no doubt be a segment that supports them. But to date, none of these benefits has been able to overcome the security that comes from transacting in a government-backed currency. The very structure of BitCoin limits the ability to respond to supply/demand fluctuations and opens it to speculation and fraud, as evidenced by the volatility of BitCoin exchange rates, thus keeping the US dollar’s status as a reserve currency secure for the foreseeable future.
With obvious benefits such as ease of use, lower fees and improvements in transaction security, I believe cryptocurrency can be a great tool and new technology for Internet consumers, emerging economies and cross-country transactions. Though it will take time to figure out the proper regulations and protections for consumers—while developing a digital currency system that makes it easy to transact business—imagine how cool and easy it will be to open a new business and not have to deal with the huge cost and complexity of banks and/or credit card companies. Cryptocurrency offers that potential.