While I sat in the room at Inside Bitcoins San Diego, Patrick Byrne mentioned how he had tried to join R3 but had problems, basically, getting in touch with the people there. Someone in the audience said they could help out. Byrne had expressed suspicion at R3’s intentions. He proposed that, perhaps, banks were trying to slow Bitcoin down. News outlets ran with it. Conspiracy gets good internet traffic. He’s wrong. They’re wrong. Here’s why.
For one, the financial industry sector is massive. Bitcoin is barely a blip on the radar compared to this multi-trillion dollar industry. Competitor? Not really. A lesson prime for commercial adoption? Yes.
The finance industry – in large part represented by R3 – is going to adapt the Bitcoin and blockchain systems to theirs. The actual Bitcoin blockchain won’t be working behind the scenes at your bank. This is likely R3’s vision. It’s pretty clear when reading bank reports, Federal Reserve reports and academic reports where they believe the blockchain technology might improve their already existing models.
Bitcoin revelations are to be adapted by the finance industry within the purview of the global laws. That means, for instance, knowing your customer and AML considerations. Few banks on the planet can bank a Bitcoin company, let alone adopt the firsthand technology which powers it, without hearing from regulators.
In 2016, the notion of the blockchain will change in the collective mind as people learn about private blockchains, the sort most likely being considered by R3 and introduced by Overstock, public blockchains, such as the Bitcoin blockchain, and public-private blockchains, a melange of the two. All these are possible under the umbrella of blockchain technology, and not all of them are Bitcoin.
Bitcoin will remain off to the side a bit. The finance industry is primed to adapt Bitcoin lessons to the Fintech space and then we will have some sort of global update to banking systems rolled out over time. Of that there can be no doubt.
But to think that R3 is some sort of conspiracy looking to derail Bitcoin is a bit sophomoric considering the heretofore lack of evidence thereof. Authorities are learning how to police Bitcoin, banks are learning from the social experiment that is Bitcoin. This is how it’s been, this is how it’ll be.
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