The "Killer App" for cryptocurrencies
For the personal computer, spreadsheets were a true "killer app".
Before PCs, universities had computers to do complicated (for them, at least) simulations. Banks had access to computers to keep ledger balances. Many offices had typewriters with small screens where you could do some editing before printing. But to do large, complicated or repetitive calculations, you resorted to a calculator, pen, and paper. If you were fortunate, the paper had columns to make it easier.
Spreadsheets came and the problem slowly disappeared. Anyone remember Lotus 1,2,3, or EasyCalc by the way? But I digress...
Before cellular phones, you made calls from the home or office. Or while on the road, you stopped at a pay phone to talk to someone. While these powerful pocket devices have done away with cameras to take pictures, planners to keep appointments, and a Rolodex to keep contacts, the phone part of the cellular phone is certainly its killer app.
A killer app is not necessary to make something ubiquitous, like the PC or cellular phones. But it certainly makes it easier.
Cryptocurrencies solve a number of financial problems. Cross-border payments, storing value for those with little or no access to a bank, moving large financial transactions (or many tiny ones) between accounts when you do not know (or do not trust) the other party... There are many "wins" for cryptocurrency. But the "killer app" remained somewhat elusive. That is starting to change, at least in my opinion.
There have been stories of people buying homes with Bitcoin. I hear one Tesla dealership also accepts cryptocurrencies. Overstock.com and a good number of others were "early adopters". And while some of the initial buzz is wearing off, there are a few projects that are maturing rather than withering.
I was reminded of this recently when I read a post in a Telegram channel where someone went into a market and purchased vegetables with bitEUR, went home, and made dinner. Now THAT is what I see as the "killer app".
The US Dollar is the major currency where I live. I recently traveled to Europe (first time, long overdue). As I have not been back to the US for a while to pick up my new ATM card from my US bank, I was worried that my local bank's ATM card would not work. It turns out it does, although the fees aren't that favorable. The majority of the shops I entered in Europe did not take American Express. Many did not even take Visa or MasterCard. Fortunately, the ATM worked with my little bank's card, although I was surprised that some Euros are taller than my wallet was made for. Who made that design decision? But I digress once more...
What if I were able to keep my secret keys to my finances on my own devices, and access my accounts while out and about? Why can't I take some bitUSD, trade it for bitEUR while in Europe, and trade it back when I get home? Instead, I returned home from Europe with some weird pieces of paper and some coins that do not work in vending machines here. The amount is hardly worth paying the exorbitant fee to convert it back. I will store it for my next visit (hopefully I will remember to bring it along).
We need Point-Of-Sale systems that work with multiple cryptocurrencies. We need ATM machines that can take our government paper and put it in our phone. We need a way to make the electronic wallet on our phone easy for anyone's grandmother to use. These technologies are coming. They are being released at a very rapid pace.
Within the last few months, I have been hands-on with a Point-Of-Sale system, an ATM, and several wallets that are making what I want a reality. Those products were from different companies, and all were using BitShares as the underlying blockchain. BitShares is the open-source, extremely fast, secure, software product and network that I have the privilege to write code for. It is not my creation, but I am proud to be a part of it.
Will BitShares change the world? Not likely. That is a lofty goal. But I do have to say that it has a solid base to build on. Not only the technology, but the people and businesses that are using BitShares to pay or be paid. And I truly hope that the large community around BitShares continues to innovate and spread.
Some look to cryptocurrencies to solve what they see as the biggest threat to society. Some do not like "big brother" keeping track of them. Some think the central banks, federal reserve, World Bank, or [ insert hated government agency here ] will be what destroys the world. There are a surprising number of people that are fervent believers in such things. They may be right. As for me, I just want to buy vegetables with my phone. That is my idea of cryptocurrency's "Killer App".
I hope that my corner vegetable stand accepts bitUSD (or bitEUR, or BTS, or BTC or ... ) real soon. If the last few months are an indication, the day may come sooner than even I am thinking.