A panel of seasoned bitcoin investors joined the New York Times’ Nathaniel Popper today at Bitcoin2014 to discuss the current and future opportunities in the digital currency space.

Angel investor Roger Ver told Popper he’s not actively looking to make any new investments, choosing, instead, to focus his attention on the investments he’s already made. The Memory Dealers CEO went on to extoll the virtues of one of the companies he has invested in – Blockchain.info.

He suggested the future of bitcoin is in this company and others that enable users to fully control their finances.

Nick Shalek of Ribbit Capital and Cross Pacific Capital’s Marc van der Chijs somewhat disagreed, claiming that centralised services would appeal more to the mass market.

“I put most of my coins into Blockchain, but I don’t think most people are ready for that yet,” explained van der Chijs.

He went on to suggest that most people want something that is easy to use, resembles their online banking platform and offers centrally administered security.

Core infrastructure

Popper asked the panel whether they thought investing directly into development of the bitcoin core should be encouraged and whether there is enough of an incentive to do so.

The overall sentiment was that it’s more important to fund the development of the layers being built on top of the protocol than spending money on the improvement of the base protocol itself.

Van der Chijs said he doesn’t believe in investing in core developers, as doing so doesn’t provide an obvious direct return. He conceded that, in the long-term, the investment could prove worthwhile, but it would be difficult to get many investors to pay up on that basis.

Roger Ver and Nick Shalek.Roger Ver and Nick Shalek.

The next price jump

Popper asked the panel members what they thought would cause the next increase in the bitcoin price.

Shalek believes the community shouldn’t be constantly sitting in wait for a big event and that since bitcoin – as a store of value and an investment vehicle – has brought the price from nothing to where it is now, it has the potential to see the value rise even further.

Van der Chijs, however, said we would witness an “explosion in prices” once the Winklevoss twins’ bitcoin ETF comes online, but said a bigger increase will come with the development of a “killer app” that will bring digital currency to the mainstream.

Bitcoin and messaging

Steve Waterhouse of Pantera Capital, which has invested in the bitcoin companies Circle and Bitstamp, said more companies need to look into the possibility of combining bitcoin transaction functionality to messaging apps.

“I think if you look at different Internet-based systems we’ve being building over the past 20 years, the best ones involve messaging,” he explained.

Ver agreed, suggesting that the next “logical step” for apps such as WhatsApp is to enable the sending and receipt of bitcoins.

Future investments

When asked where in the world the panel members are looking to focus their investment in the near future, Waterhouse said he believes there are some great opportunities outside the US.

He revealed Pantera is actively looking for opportunities in Asia and Europe and is trying to predict which of these regions will experience a bitcoin boom first.

Van der Chijs believes investment opportunities could soon arise in Argentina or some other nation suffering under high rates of inflation, as he predicts one of these countries will be the next to witness a surge in bitcoin adoption.

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