The recent history of the global economy and innovation has been driven by technological advancement. Research, science and their outcome have been the fuel for the worldwide revolution, changing industries to their very cores. Digital adoption is nothing new as businesses big or small have been trying to make their products and services more convenient than ever before. These companies are present in every sector, including the news and media, entertainment, communication, education, and others. However, the field that has gone through the biggest transformation is the financial industry.
Modern consumers are quite different from what they used to be just a few decades ago. The ever globalizing world is developing at a fast pace and every industry needs to grow along with it. The needs of today’s populations are nothing like what we required to function only roughly 10 years back.
Today, no commercial bank or another type of financial institution operates without a digital, mobile platform. Financial transactions and other services are offered through web and mobile pages, making them much more convenient, smooth, well-streamlined and most importantly fast. Customers no longer need to leave their homes or workplaces to benefit from the services their commercial banks have to offer.
There is even a niche within the financial industry called fintech. This word is simply a combination of two terms – financial and technology, indicating the current relationship between the financial industry and technological advancement.
Yet, not many know that fintech is not essentially a new niche. It has been around since the 1950s when first plastic debit and credit cards were introduced. However, plastic cards did not manage to find immediate success more than half a century ago. Thus, fintech as a well visible and constructive niche only emerged as cashless payments gained momentum in the 1990s. First, it was regular plastic cards and their advancement, later followed by contactless and mobile payments.
Not many people know the difference between the new wave contactless cards and old-style insert and pay ones either. Contactless allows payments by almost not touching the machine. This is possible thanks to Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology. Again, everything breaks down to new technological findings and innovation. Mobile payments are also performed through NFC, such as Apple and Google pay systems. They have become immensely popular and are gradually replacing other means of physical and cashless payments, including contactless cards.
Cryptos: the real innovation
The year 2009 saw the introduction of the first decentralized virtual currency on earth – Bitcoin. It is able to operate because of the internet and in simplest terms, represents a major database that is connected to many ends, in this case, computers. Bitcoin, as a currency, is based on blockchain technology, which has many benefits, particularly in terms of security.
Despite the presence of many other cryptocurrencies, bitcoin keeps being the leader on the market. In general, virtual currencies are gradually being introduced in a whole variety of industries and in businesses – small and big. Payments through cryptos are safe and often anonymous if needed. Yet, thanks to the blockchain technology, transactions can be traced by certain authorities, making it extremely convenient for certain businesses to use.
A good example is the gambling industry. Casinos have long been known as some of the most profitable businesses, involving the super-rich. However, with the increased access to the internet, the approach gambling businesses used to have started to slowly change. Online gambling platforms are now present in all corners of the world, attracting millions of players on a daily basis.
These millions of players are later introduced to the crypto industry via gambling as well due to how many online casinos have decided to either partially or completely switch over to Bitcoin or other altcoins because of legal reasons. This was especially prominent in Germany where both gambling and crypto investment was under serious regulatory issues. Casinos that could not operate in the region would rely on cryptocurrencies to cover their tracks while people who were interested in crypto investment would simply deposit real cash on the platform, exchange it into either Bitcoin or whatever the casino was supporting, play a few online slots and then withdraw via a hot wallet with a registered crypto exchange somewhere or directly to their hard wallets.
Due to such popularity, these casinos started to quickly develop their own tokens, thus increasing the number of altcoins. The more customers they had, the more the token was worth.
Bitcoin is not the end
Despite Bitcoin’s widely successful past, the present-day for it is quite different. In 2017, the virtual currency saw its best year to date. The price, for the first time, exceeded the $10,000 bar, making history within a very short period of time. It even almost hit $20,000. However, soon after the milestone, the price came back down and later stabilized at roughly $10,000.
The thing is that Bitcoin’s price has ever since been rather unstable and difficult to predict. No one really knows for sure on what it reacts the most, thus, analyzing its present state and forecasting its future is not an easy task even for some of the best professionals in the field.
On the other hand, the industry has been witnessing a soaring number of altcoins – virtual currencies that emerged following Bitcoin’s success. Some of those include Ethereum and Litecoin. Their price tag is not as high for now, nevertheless, they have something more important – stability. Altcoins are now seen more reliable at entry-level than bitcoin and there are quite a few options out there!
Experts in the field predict that overall, altcoins will likely soon overtake bitcoin. This does not essentially mean that we will see a new mega virtual currency anytime soon. After all, the immense success of Bitcoin is what keeps so many away from it today.