Why Bitcoin Needs Slang, ATMs and Dogecoin to Achieve Mass Adoption

Daniel Cawrey
Mar 27, 2014 at 00:02 UTC
Updated Oct 2, 2014 at 10:00 UTC

The question of how to encourage mainstream adoption of digital currencies was discussed in a panel on Wednesday, 26th March, as part of day two of CoinSummit San Francisco

The talk included Alan Safahi of ZipZapLamassu CEO Zach Harvey; and angel investor Brock Pierce from Clearstone Venture Partners.

The session was moderated by David Lee of SV Angel.

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How can consumers get bitcoin?

That may seem like a simple question, but it’s one that bitcoin aficionados are asked often, even five years into the construction of an ecosystem that many are predicting could have the massive, lasting impact of the Internet.

The CoinSummit panel “Bitcoin for the masses – How to get Bitcoin in the hands of millions of people?” tackled this question, and as the panel proved, it’s an issue with which the industry is still grappling.

Transition technology

The panelists indicated that though bitcoin can be a transformative technology, ultimately upending the way that people interact with money, getting it to a large number of people is going to necessitate a reliance on systems consumers are accustomed to.

That’s why bitcoin ATMs and gift cards are picking up steam in the bitcoin economy.

Angel investor Brock Pierce, agreed:

“I like, in the near-term, transitionary technologies that can allow for mass adoption.”

Lamassu ATMs is one of the more prominent transitionary companies. Zach Harvey, Lamassu’s CEO, said that his company’s machines have a wow factor that helps people easily get on board with bitcoin.

Said Harvey:

“We try to make the machine as shiny and sexy as possible. I think the experience, that’s when people start understanding it.”

ZipZap offers another easy entry point in the form of bitcoin purchases at retail outlets.

CEO Alan Safahi said that people just have to use BTC, then a gradual understanding – not unlike what happened with email 20 years ago – will take place. Safahi explained:

“Trust comes from having used it [bitcoin], overcoming objections and fear. It’s just like email. You trust that it works.”

Ease of use

(L-R) Pierce, (L-R) Pierce, Harvey, Safahi, Lee

Dogecoin came on the cryptocurrency scene as a total lark, but its ability to convey a simple message is what has made it such a transformative altcoin, the panelists said.

As noted at last week’s Bitconference California, many people who have gotten on the dogecoin bandwagon probably haven’t even touched bitcoin. It’s brought a totally different crowd, especially women and younger people who never have been interested in bitcoin.

Said Pierce: “Almost all of the altcoins, with the exception of dogecoin, people had had experiences with bitcoin.”

Safahi told the audience that adoption is about breaking down decentralized forms of money into simple language.

 “I think part of the branding strategy is making the terminology more user friendly.”

Not many dogecoin fans care about things like risk, volatility and compliance. To them, dogecoin is just a new way to give credit for interesting things that are on the internet. “People aren’t concerned about volatility [with dogecoin]. They are kind of just giving it away,” said Pierce.

Harvey thinks slang could make digital currencies a cool thing with people, and perhaps less exclusive.

“Once bitcoin gets hip enough, it will have its own slang. And that will be enough,” he said.

Image by CoinDesk