In a move which will undoubtedly help repair its image as a bro-friendly, illiberal outfit with no social conscience, Uber has replaced former CEO Travis Kalanick with Dara Khosrowshahi, an Iranian-American former CEO of Expedia with a long history of being favorable to Bitcoin.
Back in November, 2014, while Khosrowshahi was still CEO of Expedia, they began experimenting with Bitcoin as we reported here at CCN. If the company held of the coin they made during that time, it seems evident they went on to appreciate assets by a great deal.
Moving forward, is it possible we will see Uber adopt Bitcoin payments? While there are ways to use Bitcoin for Uber currently, many people would like to see the company integrate cryptocurrencies directly. Overstock recently announced that it would be accepting numerous cryptocurrencies. It seems that mainstream adoption is again on the rise with the extreme increases in the valuation of Bitcoin and all its cousin cryptocurrencies.
The utility of a currency – what it can do for its holder – is often considered as important as its value. Without some form of liquidity, it doesn’t much matter the valuation of a holding. One must be able to get the value some way. If people are able to deposit Bitcoin into an Uber account and then use it in their daily lives, especially during a time when the value of those bitcoins themselves is consistently increasing, then we may see even more widespread adoption of it and other cryptocurrencies.
After all, at present, especially lacking really broad implementations of the Lightning Network, the Bitcoin network itself would not be best suited for things like tipping the Uber drivers. A prepaid version of Uber payments is likely the most that Bitcoin users can expect, although it’s become easier than ever to expand the same courtesy to numerous other cryptocurrency holders as well.
Perhaps it is useful to take a moment to speculate on the possibility that Uber could tokenize its platform using one of the many blockchains designed for the purpose. Long-time cryptocurrency enthusiasts like Khosrowshahi are coming around to the idea of professionalized blockchains, after all. Witness Erik Voorhees’ Prism platform.
It wouldn’t be at all surprising if we saw Uber offering tokenized rides in the future. Uber could sell the tokens directly, and compensate drivers who receive the tokens as tips. Uber would have to pay the drivers in such a case, and this may be a drawback to such an idea as a whole. But increased blockchain integration in companies like Uber is to be expected, and the interest-cum-hiring of someone like Khosrowshahi in a company like Uber is not to be understated as a predictive signal.
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