CNP Expo: ‘Bitcoin is Digital Cash’

May 20, 2014

CNP Expo: ‘Bitcoin is Digital Cash’? Bitcoin’s ups and downs have been widely publicized this year, and despite the challenges, the cryptocurrency is still standing. George Peabody of Glenbrook Partners began an afternoon session at the CNP Expo by observing that “bitcoin is digital cash, and needs to be used, accepted, and protected as such.”

The panel assumed a basic understanding of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and focused on the current acceptance and regulation around bitcoin. Andy Phillipson of processor BitPay offered bitcoin as a solution for merchants whose customers are concerned about privacy: “Bitcoin is a freeing technology that allows me to maintain control over my finances and my private data when I make purchases.”

Vanesa Martinez’s online travel company, Destinia, accepts bitcoin. She points to fewer fees and no chargebacks as incentives for using the cryptocurrency. In terms of its impact on business, she says, “Many people who have bitcoin are willing to spend it, so why not give them the opportunity to spend it on your Website?”

John McDonnell of Bitnet Technologies, which is using this week’s CNP Expo as a launching pad for his new business, believes “Bitcoin [could] allow citizens of countries with corrupt governments and banking systems to ditch their local currency and take control of their finances.” He observed that this may not be as far off in the future as we may think.

Jose Caldera of IDMPay explained that his company works to ensure that merchants who accept bitcoin comply with their local government regulations around bitcoin. “Bitcoin is the start of a cryptocurrency evolution. By helping companies be compliant with regulations surrounding cryptocurrency, we are moving the industry forward on that track.”

Despite the advantages to consumers and merchants, bitcoin has yet to take off outside of a small circle of predominantly male techies. Peabody challenged the panel—what is it going to take for a wider consumer base to adopt bitcoin? McDonnell argued that with more false positives in fraud prevention and the increased demands of personal data to complete transactions, consumers are starting the see the advantage of a secure cryptocurrency.

Phillipson agreed, and said that the more merchants accept bitcoin, the more diverse its user base will become. He also noted that BitPay recalculates the exchange rate with every local currency once per minute, so merchants do not need to worry about coming up short on their transactions, despite the cryptocurrency’s sometimes volatile valuation.