Do you still carry a flip phone or pop a cassette tape into the deck when you slide behind the wheel for your morning commute? If so, there’s a chance you might fall on the far right side of the Technology Adoption Curve, affectionately termed a “laggard.”
What are we talking about?
There is a well-known bell curve that illustrates the various stages of how new technology arrives on the scene and ultimately penetrates the larger market.
The small percentage of very early adopters are known as “innovators” and make up only about 2.5% of the population while “laggards are the last 16%.
So…where do you imagine we are as a society in relation to this strange new kid on the block known as cryptocurrency, and are you ready for the next quantum leap forward?
Granted, the keystrokes behind this article are powered by people who are part of a very small slice of the innovation phase, so crypto seems like old hat to us, but when we step back and take a look around, this is one very, VERY young baby.
Think of it as equivalent to the 1994-era internet characterized by 56k dial-up modems and a Microsoft home page that looked like the image below. Do you wish you had sunk a few thousand dollars into the company back then?
Microsoft’s Early Web Page
And to drive the point home even further, Facebook and Twitter were still a decade from being whisked into existence.
Given the state of technological quickening, expect the equivalent mega-cryptocurrency companies to become apparent in less than five years. We’ve already got more than a thousand official variations of digital coins out there, all driven forward by those who see no limits in this brave new decentralized world.
The problem right now is that the field is so crowded that it’s like a digital game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey trying to figure out which ones might have what it takes to survive and thrive in the long-term.
Up until about 20,000 years ago, there was no money.
Eventually, isolated tribes of humanity developed a crude ledger system to keep track of how much yak meat Grunt owed Growl after a successful hunt. This worked until the tribes started bumping into one another, each with completely disparate ledger methods.
About five thousand years ago, we stumbled upon the idea of using gold as a means of transferring value, which is kind of interesting because the metal in and of itself doesn’t provide much in the way of functionality. It has and holds value only because there is a scarce supply. It’s also heavy, and sort of awkward to carry a lot of it around.
By the time the 1600s arrived, some thinkers put forward the notion that we should switch to paper certificates that provided proof of a certain amount of gold stashed away somewhere. People lost their minds’ at this radical suggestion, and it took 400 more years before the global currency reserve (the US dollar) finally went off the gold standard.
As technology develops, adoption comes exponentially faster. Consider that it took decades for the telephone and household electricity to reach 60% of the population.
Things happen a lot quicker now.
Kids born today are going to grow up quite comfortable with the idea of cryptocurrency as a legitimate financial system.
Investing in a fiat currency like the US dollar, thanks to the continually devaluing effect of inflation, is an exercise in futility. There’s a better than average chance that it will be worth less (in terms of the goods and services it will buy) in a few years than it is now.
Going up Alot
But this cryptocurrency thingie is starting to feel like an actual investment strategy, especially considering the stratospheric rise in the price of Bitcoin since its conception.
It started life worth only pennies per coin, skyrocketed up near $20,000, and now has retreated considerably back into the $5,000 range. Believe us, millionaires were made during that run.
While Bitcoin might be prohibitively expensive for your budget right now, there are plenty of alternative coins (referred to as altcoins) officially traded on exchanges.
Of course, you should only invest money you can afford to lose. There’s too much uncertainty to be tapping into the kids’ college fund, this month’s mortgage, or food and gas money.
Maybe you never thought about it, but here’s what happens when you invest in cryptocurrency — besides taking the perhaps infinitesimal chance at becoming filthy rich.
The investments you make provide working capital for the industry to not only develop more sophisticated versions of your favorite coin, but create entirely new products. Currently, Bitcoin sits at a market capitalization of around $112 billion. That’s not an insignificant number!
Whereas Bitcoin seems pretty focused on cryptocurrency, a company like Ethereum (the second largest cryptocurrency) has gone a different direction by providing a blockchain platform on which developers can create whatever sort of application they can imagine. This is where the future is being built and where this whole thing gets exciting.
As new money pours into the cryptocurrency industry via both individual investors and forward-thinking corporations like IBM, you can expect the opportunities to participate in this boom will take forms we never even considered.
Start thinking about this stuff seriously now, because you don’t want to be the slowpoke who arrives too late to this revolution.