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Cryptocurrency is hardly anything new to those of us with even the most basic knowledge of digital currency. But, what was once a distinctly non-mainstream payment option is fast becoming a la mode.

The big question we’re asking is: given the current state of play with bitcoin on the financial markets, what is the future of this and other cryptocurrencies and should you be investing your time and money in them?

In order to really answer this we need to look at how cryptocurrency, in this case bitcoin, was intended to be used. Prior to the bitcoin domain name being registered in 2008, digital cash tech already existed in various forms. Were they popular? Not as such. But, they certainly had a core of dedicated followers, who had fortuitously seen the real potential of systems like Ecash and were keen to develop this extraordinary idea further.

By the following year credited bitcoin.org creator Satoshi Nakamoto, had mined the first block, worth 50 bitcoins. Online payment would never be the same again. As the movement grew, so did the overall acceptance of cryptocurrency and from truly peer-to-peer transaction, giants such as PayPal, Subway and Expedia now accept bitcoin in exchange for goods or services.

It’s almost baffling why, some ten years later there is still so much fear around it.

However, when you look at bitcoin’s history, founded by someone or some people under a pseudonym, who promptly stepped away from it a short while later, it’s easier to understand why cryptocurrency stubbornly refuses to find traction in the life of ‘ordinary’ e-citizens, who, while embracing so much in digital life, view bitcoin as a step too far. Those who use it love it, those who don’t, appear to fear it. Business either gets it or it doesn’t.

What attracts users, of course, is the immediacy and security of using bitcoins to carry out transactions. It just makes sense on so many levels.

But, with wider use often comes the call for greater regulation and a more centralised approach to valuation. This in itself carries with it implications of government regulation stepping in at some point down the line, something the original founders were keen to avoid.

It’s this uncertainty over the heavy hand of authority that seems to keep a lot more companies firmly on the fence when it comes to accepting cryptocurrency. That, and the fact that we often don’t see the benefits of introducing change into our working practices, despite the reality that transactions are, by nature, more secure and far less likely to involve fraud.

The fact is that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies would, in all likelihood, cope just fine with increased take-up. They have more than demonstrated that they can stand up to the vigour of accelerated use in the decade since its official inception. Doubt arises around whether it can be treated and manipulated in the same way as country currencies, be floated and traded on the Stock Market and elsewhere with any degree of success.

So far, in the US, moves to do so have been blocked. You get the strong sense that this is a step too far for the mainstream financial institutions and this year will not see any changes in this position. In fact opinion on bitcoin’s future over the forthcoming year appears to have attracted dividing opinions with experts predicting either a total crash in value or a surge in popularity. What makes this even more of a concern is that these experts are leaders in the bitcoin market.

Calvin Ayre, founder of Bitcoin Cash has himself predicted that bitcoin will be found to be worthless and have no value. As dire as this prediction sounds, Ayre doesn’t rule out cryptocurrency in its entirety, more that bitcoin will be replaced by currencies that are far more developed and fit for use.

So the question is if bitcoin has, in part at least, seen better days, where should we be looking if we want to invest in cryptocurrencies?

The answer is that there are several on the market that have the cautious backing of business experts. These include Neo, Zcash and Steem, though there are plenty of others out there. While unwilling to wholly commit, reading around blogs and news on the crypto sites points to a feeling of cautious optimism, that backs Ayre’s opinion that bitcoin is not the only fruit worth picking off the digital transaction tree.

There may be uncertainty, there may even be fear around the future of cryptocurrency. But we certainly haven’t seen it giving up without a fight. One of the huge benefits to being entirely digital is the quickness at which it can adapt. It’s this strength that is sure to keep it moving forward and staying relevant, long after national currencies have faded away. The year is young, there is optimism about the future of cryptocurrency, despite the naysayers, and there is a growing movement to ‘normalise’ owning, trading and transacting in digital currency.

We want bitcoin and the like to succeed, because we know and value the immediacy and security it provides us. People are already using bitcoin credit cards in stores and have seen houses bought, rent paid for and services offered by companies who share our vision. If you are considering your digital portfolio, do your reading, read the signs and make some investments.

Cryptocurrency is still where the smart money lies. It may be a slow burn but if all the indications stay on target, it will get there and hold on to its claim to be the currency of tomorrow and beyond.

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