January 13, 2017
As Bitcoin is again breaking the $1,000 value threshold, there’s no telling where the cryptocurrency can go from here. It has proven to be more stable than many of the world’s economies and serves as a way for humanitarians to do some good.
In 2017, it is already clear Bitcoin will be a major disruptor. But let’s take a look back and see which industries have already felt the power of Bitcoin.
We’ll start with the obvious one here. Bitcoin has majorly disrupted the banking industry, allowing people to access a money that’s not controlled by a central government office.
Instead of needing a bank account, people all over the world can send and receive Bitcoin from their mobile phones. In the early days of Bitcoin, financial experts called the cryptocurrency a threat, but attitudes have changed drastically. Even major banks like Citi have embraced Bitcoin, saying that it brings the opportunity for true innovation.
Over the past year and a half, several global financial institutions, such as MasterCard, BNP Paribas, Visa and J.P. Morgan, invested in blockchain startups. Some experts suggest that Bitcoin could save the banking industry as much as $20 billion by eliminating middle-man costs.
These big firms realize that Bitcoin can be an entry into emerging markets, where people often don’t have bank accounts — but they do have mobile phones.
Humanitarian efforts in countries with nearly worthless currency have realized that Bitcoin is a valuable asset.
Among the charitable organizations accepting Bitcoin: Human Rights Foundation, the American Red Cross, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the United Way.
The very same thing that many people fear about Bitcoin is a strength to those in countries with uncertain financial climates: Bitcoin isn’t led at the whim of a governmental office. Bitcoin, in many cases, is more stable than currencies like the Venezuelan bolivar, allowing people to buy Amazon gift cards to purchase necessary goods and supplies.
Embracing Bitcoin has been a win-win for charitable organizations: they’re able to tap into a more affluent and often younger donor base, while people receiving Bitcoin have a donation not tied to their country’s volatile currency.
Donation via cryptocurrency also allows donors to be anonymous, if they wish. Last year, The Water Promise (a nonprofit working to provide reliable access to water in impoverished countries) received $23,000 in anonymous donations from the Bitcoin community on Reddit. The organization noted that Bitcoin donations have funded several projects over the past two years.
Blockchain startups have already started to disrupt the $15 billion music industry. Last year saw the rise of companies such as Ujo Music and Stem, making it easier for artists to get paid by fans for their work uploaded to YouTube, Spotify and other streaming sites.
By using a Bitcoin-based payment model, fans can directly pay artists for their music, without record labels and producers taking a huge cut.
Instead of being at the mercy of a record label, many musicians today are managing themselves and going peer-to-peer for payment. Using blockchain technology can give artists better control of their earnings. Artists want to be paid quickly and fairly for their work, something these startups are working for.
Stem gives musicians an efficient framework for content creation, distribution and revenue generation. Even Mark Cuban is a fan (and investor). Through Ujo Music, artists can create a digital wallet for fans to send Ether (the digital currency of the Ethereum blockchain) if the music has their toes tapping.
Other startups, such as Kashcoin and PeerTracks, are also using blockchain technology to foster a better deal for artists and a deeper peer-to-peer payment system.
Much like other industries, a focus on Bitcoin and blockchain technology within the music technology is aimed at cutting out the expensive middlemen.
With Bitcoin, you can step into some of the world’s most popular casinos — without leaving your house.
Bitcoin casinos have done what Caesar’s Palace can’t: truly offer you an online gambling experience. As the U.S. has heavily regulated online gaming, the digital currency is fueling a boom.
One of the biggest of these online gaming portals? Dragon’s Tale, a role-playing game that uses Bitcoin instead of chips. In 2013, a study showed that at least half of all Bitcoin transactions were related to gambling. One of the earliest popular Bitcoin gambling sites, SatoshiDice, saw as many as 12,400 bets per day in 2013. In the first three years of Dragon’s Tale, players earned jackpots totalling more than 406,000 Bitcoin (roughly $44 million).
In the near future the online gambling industry could easily be disrupted even more by the rise of Bitcoin.
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