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article imageOp-Ed: Why Bitcoin will go mainstream in 2014

By Scott Sawitz     Jan 27, 2014 in Business
Last week news emerged that two Las Vegas Casinos have become the first of their kind to accept Bitcoin as legal tender, marking another milestone for the crypto-currency.
It’s an auspicious start to the year for the virtual coins which are set to go mainstream in 2014.
Both the D Las Vegas Casino Hotel and the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino began accepting Bitcoin last Wednesday, although at the moment that’s just limited to their hotel and gift shop and not for gambling. It begs the question whether we'll soon see more casinos with Bitcoin.
That could be a signal to many that Bitcoin has a long way to go before it becomes a routine currency for the masses. For instance, A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board told the Salt Lake Tribune not to expect gambling with Bitcoin any time soon.
"We would have to have an extremely high level of comfort with virtual currency of this kind in order for that to ever occur," Burnett said.
That would ultimately require clarity from the US Treasury, the Department of Justice and the IRS before the currency can make any more strides this year. But does regulatory oversight matter for this unregulated currency to become mainstream?
Ultimately it doesn’t. Internet marketers experienced the same problems when they switched to making sure their SEO is natural.
That’s because, as the Las Vegas example shows, Bitcoin is moving from being the preserve of radical libertarians and drug dealers to that of the suited businessmen.
In Canada, it is already being offered in ATMs and the coolest coffee shops across the country. What this means, despite all the reservations, is that the currency which came into being five years ago is moving in the right direction.
Last week, Marc Andreessen, a co-founder of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, wrote a piece in the New York Times as to why Bitcoin matters. He argues that, despite all the reservations of regulators and those confused by the viability of the virtual coinage, its rise in value, worth $1,000 per Bitcoin at some exchanges, means it will inevitably become more widespread.
“The Bitcoin currency had to be worth something before it could bear any amount of real-world payment volume,” said Andreessen. “This is the classic ‘chicken and egg; problem with new technology: new technology is not worth much until it’s worth a lot. And so the fact that Bitcoin has risen in value in part because of speculation is making the reality of its usefulness arrive much faster than it would have otherwise.”
That “usefulness” of this highly speculated currency can be seen in the range of online businesses already accepting the coinage. Earlier this month became the first online retailer to accept the currency and last Thursday news emerged that eBay was considering the same.
Of course there is plenty to be cautious about. Bitcoin is far from a stable currency and many online retailers, such as Amazon, have categorically said they have no plans of accepting Bitcoins. What needs to happen this year for the currency to move forward is more widespread regulation — something that is somewhat of a paradox for this
unregulated monetary system.
But the signs for Bitcoin are positive. The US Senate has held hearings since November last year on the digital currency and all the signs are that the politicians are seeing its potential in enhancing trade between buyers and sellers. Similar conclusions are coming out of other countries, such as France, where a Senate Finance Committee ruled out banning the currency in favour of a “wait and see” approach.
That might not be enough for some, but the adoption of Bitcoin by financial institutions, retailers and customers might force the currency into the mainstream regardless.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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