Did Bitcoin Disrupt the Banking Industry?


Emerging cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have challenged our financial sector. However, did cryptocurrencies actually succeed in disrupting the banking industry?

Blockchain & Crypto Poised as Sector-wide Distrupters

Within the ‘crypto world’ it’s become very common for emerging projects to toss around the words “groundbreaking” and “disrupting” as though every new project were somehow going to change the world. However, many of these projects are led by tech-savvy people that don’t necessarily know anything about managing funds, much less an entire company.

These words may be captivating for readers and new investors but they’re usually backed by nothing more than an ambitious team looking to raise funds. Coinopsy’s ongoing follow-up on ICOs showed that over 60% of projects have already been declared “dead coins.”

It’s evident that most projects fell into the categories of cash grabs, joke coins, or scam coins, leaving only a few real projects that have actually managed to stay afloat. This begs the question then, have cryptocurrencies actually disrupted the banking industry, as so many news headlines claimed?

In Short, No. Not Yet.

According to 2018’s Top 1000 World Banks Ranking, combined total assets reached over US$124 trillion!

Compare that grand total to the total market cap of the cryptocurrency market at just over US$230 billion (at the time of writing). This means that the entirety of the cryptocurrency market is worth about 0.19% of the entire global assets held by banks.

Though US$230 billion is by no means a small number, when compared to the massive scale that is the banking industry, it’s only just becoming a blip on their radar.

Bitcoin

In all the mentions of cryptocurrencies, the most outstanding in terms of market cap is Bitcoin (by far). This is the digital coin that has received the most attention from individuals, law enforcement, and banks.

The first and strongest digital currency today, Bitcoin holds about 68% of the entire value of the crypto market. However, even this figure for a single digital currency wouldn’t be enough to disrupt banking. Though its fame (or notoriety) has been heard around the world, Bitcoin is currently no grave threat to the world of finance.

Nevertheless, keep in mind that Bitcoin and all of these subsequent coins are barely a decade old. This new sector is barely at its first phase of development and when considered in this light, it’s actually risen pretty quickly. Moreso, what’s most amazing about Bitcoin isn’t necessarily its volume or fame, but rather its underlying technology.

Blockchain

Though we’ve established that Bitcoin won’t be running any banks out of business anytime soon, the thing that could truly disrupt not only banking but numerous other sectors worldwide is not cryptocurrencies, but Blockchain technology.

We won’t go into much detail about the technology itself, as that’s an entirely different topic. We’ll just say that blockchain technology provides a potential solution to some existing issues by providing an unchangeable, permanent record without the need for a centralized authority.

Bitcoin, for example, allows users to create their own wallets and hold their own coins, and send these to anyone they wish, without the need for any institution that controls it. Rather, anyone can have a server that maintains the full record of all transactions. This distributed record is necessary to maintain an accurate record of all wallet balances.

In this way, blockchain technology allows for a more simple and fair method of banking, thus its popularity. Yet, this is only one aspect of the reach this new technology could have.

Blockchain for Other Sectors

The potential for how this new technology could influence the future is still being studied. There’s no certainty for the future; experts simply state the possibilities and new projects have to work hard to prove or disprove these. That being said, below are a few ways in which blockchain technology could influence different sectors:

  1. Payments – as with our example of Bitcoin, blockchain could provide faster transactions at lower fees than currently with banks.
  2. Loans and Credit – by eliminating the need for intermediaries, individuals could use peer-to-peer lending to incur less fees and interest.
  3. Fundraising – as with Initial Coin Offerings, projects can look to crowdfunding for financing rather than traditional sales of equity.
  4. Health Care – blockchain could potentially allow for global access of records and better infrastructure for medication administration.
  5. Energy – through peer-to-peer systems, individuals could use their local grids to buy or sell energy (ex: someone with solar panels could sell their excess energy).
  6. Voting – through a decentralized, immutable ledger, voters could submit their identification and ballots through the blockchain to minimize human error.
  7. Research – as Artificial Intelligence and IoT devices continue to evolve, accurate records could help in the analyzing of data more quickly for researchers.
  8. Agriculture – in both resource usage optimization and in giving farmers more control over the chain-of-command, blockchains could redefine farm-to-table.

These are only a few examples of the benefits blockchain technology could have over our existing systems. Just like these, there are countless other areas where this technology could assist by providing greater reliability of records.

Blockchain Still Holds a Key for Future Disruption

Bitcoin isn’t currently disrupting the banking industry to any serious extent. What we can’t be sure of yet is whether or not this will change in the future. Perhaps as regulations continue to allow greater usability for digital assets we’ll see greater change. It’s likely, as well, that as more people become interested in the space, greater leaps will be taken.

For now, we can just sit back and enjoy the process. There is no telling what the future holds, so it’s best to keep our eyes and ears open, and wherever possible help in its development.

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