Something that allows individuals to spend money however they want isn’t going away anytime soon. Just like we did with computer viruses, hacks, and a host of other once-seemingly cataclysmic issues, bitcoin’s users will figure out all sorts of ways to deal with theft, scams, and worse. The fixes will never be perfect, the patches and updates will be ongoing, and an alternative system may well supplant bitcoin, but what else is new in digital culture, right? As Veronique de Rugy suggested last November, it’s worth thinking about bitcon as “the Napster of the payment industry.” The specific platform is far less important than the forces it unleashes.
That's from my latest Daily Beast column, which argues that bitcoin (or something very much like it) is here to stay despite the collapse of Japan-based exchange Mt. Gox and intensifying attempts by governments to regulate or ban the cryptocurrency. On that latter point:
If the U.S.—not to mention any and all other governments around the globe—squeeze too hard, the hive mind that is constantly building, repairing, and revising bitcoin’s protocol will skip town one way or another. They—we—don’t want bitcoin per se. We want something like bitcoin that allows for greater freedom, reduced transaction costs, greater anonymity, and perfect accounting transparency. As long that need is there, it will be served.