Written by: David Demar Much has been made of the disruptive power of crypto through the lens of FinTech , as the growing popularity of digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have already had a major impact on financial markets across the globe. However, not as much has been said about the disruptive power of crypto on a microeconomic scale.As cryptocurrency technologies become increasingly widespread and the ownership of digital currencies continues to transition from a small subset of early adopters and tech enthusiasts to a more general population, the potential for economic disruption will need to be addressed more comprehensively. A global, cashless global economy that exists outside of fiat currencies is well on its way, and preparing now for the disruption that will bring will result in organizations being able to ride that wave safely in the future.
The Digital Economy is Already Here
Think the advent of a fully digital economy is a far-off science-fiction future, the realm of shows like Star Trek where digital “credits” are the universal currency and no one has the ability – or the need – to touch actual cold, hard cash? Think again – the digital economy is already upon us, and physical money is soon to become a thing of the past. The only thing up for debate is how quickly it will happen.Average individuals now rarely handle actual cash. Thanks to employees receiving direct deposits into their bank account and debit cards that allow those same employees to purchase goods and services in person and over the internet, a majority of transactions in developed countries are already establishing an all-digital, or nearly all-digital, economy. Interbank and point-of-sale networks are overwhelmingly in favor of digital money transfers,In fact, a US consumer payment study conducted in 2016 found that, across a majority of retail establishments, the vast majority of consumers made use of debit card payments
in lieu of cash. The only holdouts where that trend was reversed was in fast food restaurants and coffee shops, where the numbers were more evenly distributed. However, even in those cases, the number of cash customers vs. debit customers were off by only a few percentage points – a trend that is only likely to continue. Related: 5 Big Themes in FinTech That Have Risen to the Top in 2017
Set Up Crypto Infrastructure Now
With the knowledge that digital payments are already so prevalent in developed countries, it behooves any organization to begin setting up crypto infrastructure now. Other digital payment schemes have shown steady adoption – from November 2014 through June 2017 the number of people in a survey reporting to have used Apple Pay went from 9% to 24.5%
, for example – and once the demand for crypto payments reaches a tipping point, it’s likely to follow a similar pattern.Many companies have already implemented crypto infrastructure. Major online retailers have been early adopters, as digital currencies are easiest to process in an online environment – Newegg, Tiger Direct, Steam, and Dell all accept Bitcoin as a payment method – and an increasing number of retail stores have experimented with extending service to customers who wish to pay in Bitcoin as well.With much of the infrastructure for digital payments both online and in the real world already established, a transition to a fully-digital economy through crypto payments isn’t so farfetched. Retail establishments that already support digital payment processing for Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, and others can easily adapt to another digital currency, one that is truly universal and can be used anywhere around the globe without worries about exchange rates.
Being Prepared Pays Off
While it’s impossible to completely future-proof any organization, it’s important to keep a weather eye on the horizon when it comes to emerging technology that has the potential for disrupting the status quo. While you don’t have to necessarily be an early adopter, preparing for the incipient sea change by establishing protocols or developing infrastructure will pay off in the long run when you can implement your own crypto support well before rivals and competitors.