There are about $20 billion worth of bitcoins already in circulation.
A recent World Economic Forum report estimated that by 2027, as much as 10 percent of the entire global GDP could be stored via blockchain, the technology underpinning bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
There are signs that cryptocurrencies could one day dominate, rather than merely “disrupt,” financial service institutions. (A quick primer: blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger for record financial transactions, or anything of value. Bitcoin is a digital payment system that can be implemented via a blockchain.)
Countries such as Switzerland, Singapore and Estonia are moving to develop frameworks to accommodate blockchain-related tech, and are eager to become hubs for new waves of business financing.
South Korea amended a law allowing fintech companies to offer bitcoin international transfer services. Among other things, that will allow fintech companies to compete with traditional banks, with quicker and cheaper money transferring services. While a traditional bank might charge a 5 or 6% fee and take two to three days to transfer money overseas, a Bitcoin remittance service provider might charge only 1% and mere minutes for the transfer to take place.
Other Asian countries are already in the game. Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank, in collaboration with Japan’s SBI Remit, just started using Ripple to power real-time remittance payments between the two countries. “We are experiencing the third era of money,” said Galia Benartzi, the CEO of Particle Code, at this week’s Nexus Summit in New York.
“The first was natural — gold, salt. The second came from government. And now in the third era, money is coming from people.”