In an appearance at SXSW yesterday, Google’s Director of Ideas issues a statement that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and several altcoins aren’t likely to be disappearing soon. “I think it’s very obvious to all of us that cryptocurrencies are inevitable”, said Cohen during a conversation with Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. While being positive about the value of cryptos, Cohen also claimed that there remains a danger as long as the coins aren’t being regulated. “Even though the future of Bitcoin seems to be assured, it’s unclear how the technology will develop in the future, as it’s still a pretty new space”, reports TechCrunch.
Google Ideas works as a think tank that spends most of its time dealing with oppressive governments. It explores how technology can enable people to confront threats in the face of conflict, instability or repression. Since it has nothing to do with any product development, Cohen’s statement should not be mistaken for a sign that Google is thinking about accepting Bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency, in the near future.
However, Cohen and Google Ideas are still an important part of the internet giant’s business group, which clearly shows us that Google takes cryptocurrencies serious. In fact, they’re taking a positive stance towards it, publically. Something other companies refuse to do. This is an important step. Bitcoin’s reputation has taken a few big hits during the last weeks. Among regular stories of theft and money laundering, the whole MtGox debacle made things even worse, and public opinion has been suffering over this. If a respected company, like Google, claims that cryptocurrencies are ‘inevitbale’, that is a pretty big endorsement for the whole concept.
And their love for the ‘concept’, rather than for Bitcoin itself was made clear when Cohen asked Schmidt whether “Bitcoin is the model, or the master of cryptocurrencies?.”
Bitcoin was the first and right now is the most popular of all cryptos, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best. With the recent wave of altcoins, it became clear that anyone can take the Bitcoin model and adapt it to make their own digital currency. Some succeed in establishing themselves, as Litecoin and Dogecoin, while others fail to make a difference and simply drown in an ocean of altcoins. Since normal people can create altcoins, this means that financial institutions can do the same. Who knows what companies are secretly working on a future altcoin that will remove Bitcoins flaws and will try to get one step closer to being the perfect cryptocurrency?
Removing the flaws
Having said all that, Bitcoin’s weakest point remains its inability to guarantee a safe and secure way to store them. Sure, there are ways but when it comes to giving ‘common people’ (the ones that just heard of Bitcoin and have no extensive computer knowledge, the ones we need to reach to make Bitcoin go mainstream) a full-proof opportunity to safely store their Bitcoins, there’s still some work to be done. Despite this flaw, the coin still retains its strength.
Ending his conversation, Cohen restated that Bitcoin has an urgent need for regulation. “There’s a danger to it not being regulated in some form”, he insisted.
Even so, it remains to be seen whether or not it’s possible to do so. The whole regulation is a debate that has been going on for years and a definitive outcome is not to be expected soon. In fact, no realistic proposals have been made thus far, and until that happens, the end is not in sight.