Neha Narula from MIT Media Labs and Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit talk about the need for mainstream adoption for cryptocurrencies.
Views Expressed During the Panel Discussion
Director of the Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative, Neha Narula and Alexis Ohanian, a venture capitalist and the co-founder of Reddit, shared their thoughts about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies during a panel discussion at the Wired 25 summit earlier on Monday.
Comparing the current slump in the cryptocurrency market to the bear market in the internet industry post the Dotcom bubble, Ohanian argued that the crash created a fertile ground for start-ups like Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr to thrive.
Ohanian believes that the current state of cryptocurrencies is analogous to early 1990s period of the internet when it was more a subject of research than actual use by the masses. He feels that just like the Netscape browser launch in 1994 helped take the internet to the layman, a similar breakthrough is required in the cryptocurrency space.
Stating that cryptocurrencies could be in a similar productive period, he said, “Now is a good time because it’s scattered all the hucksters and scenesters.”
Narula was of the opinion that the development of cryptocurrencies may not necessarily follow a similar pattern to the internet. She believes that just like TCP/IP emerged as the protocol of choice for the adoption of the internet, a related development is likely to take place among the various competing cryptocurrencies.
“The internet developed in secret, a little bit,” she said, adding, “People weren’t paying attention in the early days.”
Stating that the current slump may be good for the blockchain projects as unlike the internet projects, crypto projects are under a lot of pressure to create money for investors. Narula further believes that blockchain entrepreneurs should learn from the mistakes of the internet era especially the establishment of monopolistic organizations like Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
The Best Use Case for Cryptocurrency Adoption?
Quizzed about what kind of tool could fill that gap, both stated that cross-border payments by people who don’t have access to banking services is the most socially useful application. Ohanian argued that despite its volatility, Bitcoin might still be better for people in countries where they live in fear of governments seizing their assets.
“As volatile a store of data as bitcoin is, it’s still yours,” Ohanian said. Narula, on the other hand, concluded by saying that blockchain and cryptocurrencies are still far from delivering on their potential.
While Ohanian and Narula differed on a few points, both were of the opinion that mass adoption is what will get cryptocurrencies the much-required breakthrough they need. Both believe that cross-border transfers are a use case that can bring cryptos to the masses.
Do you agree with the views of Ohanian and Narula? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of ShutterStock and Amy Lombard/WIRED