Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are about to go mainstream – Jim Duffy

Coming to a high street near you? A Bitcoin ATM machine (Picture: John Devlin)Coming to a high street near you? A Bitcoin ATM machine (Picture: John Devlin)
Coming to a high street near you? A Bitcoin ATM machine (Picture: John Devlin)
Usually the preserve of nerds and geeks, cryptocurrencies are now attracting interest from governments and major corporations, writes Jim Duffy

Studying sociology was a complete and utter waste of time, according my old shift sergeant in the polis. He was real stickler for tradition and crossing T’s and dotting I’s. He wasn’t a fan of those cops who entered the service with degrees and wanted to get into cushy department jobs as quickly as possible to get off shiftwork and off the ‘street’.

And of course, I was doing a second degree in – that’s right – sociology. Well, to be fair, it was socio-economics and socio-linguistics, so it had some function. But not to him. “Hey Duffy, tell us all wit a sub-culture really is.” To his amusement and that of his fellow sergeants, I really had no clue. But I do now.

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Right under our very noses, there is a sub-culture growing and bubbling away. I am part of it so I can relate to it. There are a whole grouping in Scottish society also part of this sub-culture too. It has meaning. It has interest. And it has the potential to make them millionaires. And that is the dangerous part of this particular sub-culture. It’s called crypto, but you may simply know it as Bitcoin.

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It didn’t dawn on me that I was part of this sub-culture until I was watching a live-stream video from the CEO of one of the big cryptocurrencies. As I watched and listened, my attention was drawn to the scrolling comments sidebar.

All a bit sycophantic

Usually I ignore this fast-moving and irrelevant verbiage as it involves a lot of hype and fans “love” for the host of the webinar. Lots of “to the moon” and pictures and emojis or rockets and dollar signs. But, to my amazement up popped a well-known Scottish name telling the presenter that he loved him.

I felt a bit sick to be honest. It was all a bit sycophantic. But, it stopped me in my tracks as both he and me were part of the same sub-culture.

Like all sub-cultures, there’s usually something ‘deviant’ or ‘subversive’. In sociological terms, these are not as harsh as they appear. In short, it just means that they have different views from the norm and are usually grouped together, while communicating together in forums, chatrooms or less accessible platforms. Do I feel deviant? Yes, most certainly as the crypto geeks or movement has been sidelined for such a long time.

In 2018, the crypto scene burst into life reaching all-time highs. But, the gains made by investors and speculators fizzled out. And from that time, it has had to lick its wounds in a very bearish market place.

Nevertheless, it has moved on and while we all got back to ISAs, bonds, building society accounts and premium bonds, the crypto sub-culture has been busily beavering away. Actually developing software and infrastructure that could make a difference to our lives. And the lives of those in developing countries.

‘In it together’

We are a group of nerds who have our own FTSE 100-style list of top crypto companies. We have exchanges where we can buy and sell and trade this crypto as it moves up and down just a regular market place. New companies come to the fore, while others mature and create value. We have an array of You-Tube influencers, who put out entertaining videos each day. We have tweets galore where folks chat on this coin or that coin. And so it goes on. But, while this sub-culture keeps busy and we don’t shout from the rooftops about it, there is big change coming. And I’m not happy.

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Part of being part of a sub-culture is that feeling of being ‘in it together’. We are not quite accepted. Governments are wary of crypto. Banks have been sceptical and dismissive of this part of finance that undermines them and worries them at the same time. Big institutional investors want to stake their cash on trusted five-star funds, not crypto decentralised finance. And credit card providers and the likes of PayPal don’t want involved with this sub-culture.

Until recently, that is... Now they are now all over it and my sub-culture will move from exactly that into mainstream. Yuck.

As I said, crypto has come along way. And with that progress, comes adoption and acceptance into new financial networks. Mastercard, PayPal and governments are now creating the policy plumbing for crypto to enter your lives.

Some of the magic will go

While my ‘dirty little secret’ loses it sex appeal and moves out and upwards. Soon, you will be able to invest in companies you may have never heard of, but that are actually pretty big already.

Names such as Cardano, Reserve, VeChain and, of course, Bitcoin will at some point be offered by financial advisors within regulated funds. Disclaimer – I invest in these. And here all the fun stops for me.

Sure, my sub-culture “buddies” stand to make some huge returns on their “bags” of crypto when it all goes mainstream. And the “Lambo” garages might be busy. But, I feel a little sadness or mixed feelings really. Yes, I’m glad that the confidence we all had in crypto has been proven right and the geeks, nerds and “hodlers”, yes you read that right, will make a few bob. However, the genie will be out the sub-culture bottle and it will lose some of its magic as it moves to the high street.

So, if my old sergeant wants to know now what a sub-culture is, I can prattle on for a good hour on its genesis, hopes and fears, systems and processes, communication apparatus and a whole lot more. But, within 12 months, it will be gone and a new one will take its place.

Now that’s something to look forward to…

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