Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Overbit Weekly Round Up.
Except at the cash register, cryptocurrency has suddenly become commonplace. While interest in cryptocurrency has grown, few people are using it for its intended purpose: payment.
Nearly 30,000 Bitcoin ATMs can now be found in gas stations, liquor stores, and hair salons across the United States, up from 1,800 four years ago and approximately half of Coinstar's 17,000 coin-to-cash kiosks now sell Bitcoin.
Despite the hype, there is little evidence that digital currencies are on the verge of becoming mainstream payment options. While a recent Pew Research Center survey found that 16% of Americans have used cryptocurrency in some way, the majority buy it as a speculative investment rather than for its intended purpose — to pay for goods and services.
"It's not happening," Dan Dolev, a financial technology analyst at Mizuho Securities, said of the idea of cryptocurrency replacing hard cash. "People are buying cryptocurrency because they believe it can only go up."
"According to an October study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, only one-tenth of Bitcoin transactions, the original and still largest cryptocurrency, amount to any "economically meaningful" activity. However, he has stated elsewhere that he sees the digital token as an asset similar to gold, to be purchased and held rather than used as a substitute for the dollar.
According to a Chainalysis report, transactions worth more than $10 million accounted for more than 60% of activity in the growing decentralised finance market, the crypto-enabled alternative to traditional financial services, in the second quarter of last year.
According to CoinMarketCap, the value of the global crypto market has tripled in a year, from $774 billion to $2.2 trillion, attracting a wider swath of the population. According to Pew, one in every six Americans had invested in, traded, or otherwise used cryptocurrency, a significant increase from 2015, when only 1% reported involvement.
And today's investor pool is becoming more diverse. According to a summer poll conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, 44% of those who purchased or traded cryptocurrencies in the previous year were non-White, 41% were women, and 35% had annual household incomes of less than $60,000.
Coinbase, one of the largest crypto trading exchanges in the United States, now offers a Visa rewards debit card that connects users to their Coinbase accounts; Crypto.com also does. However, the road to broader consumer adoption of cryptocurrency is anything but straight.
Major US retailers, such as Dell and Expedia, experimented with accepting Bitcoin through their websites in 2014 but abandoned the option when it failed to gain traction with customers.
In our next story of the week, we will look at how some companies are already implementing blockchain technologies in healthcare.
Gartner combined its analysis of potential blockchain applications with other significant technologies such as distributed cloud computing, artificial intelligence, traceability, and automated democratisation.
Estonia's national healthcare system is highly digitised, including blockchain. Several major pharmaceutical companies, including Roche, are collaborating with the Estonian government to determine future blockchain applications in healthcare – and the success of blockchain in the healthcare sector in Estonia has sparked interest in blockchain development for the country's digital court system, business registry, succession registry, and property registry.
Aside from its utility for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, blockchain could provide security and transparency that could help to revolutionise how the healthcare industry handles data while protecting patient confidentiality.
This concludes this week's edition of Overbit Weekly Round Up. Thank you so much for reading, and until next time!