BR: Of all the industries that have embraced blockchain technology, the financial sector seems to be one of the most prominent. Why do you think that is?
Cowan: While the potential of blockchain to significantly improve cross-sectoral transparency, efficiency, and security is boundless, the financial sector has provided the most fertile ground for decentralized innovation so far.
Bitcoin, the first use-case of blockchain technology, was designed to disrupt traditional finance, as a peer-to-peer digital currency without a central bank or framework built around intermediaries. The emergence of bitcoin was in response to growing dissatisfaction with the status quo of traditional finance and the associated problems such as transaction delays, unnecessarily protracted processes, and frustrating intermediary fees.
Given blockchain’s origins as a tool for addressing inefficiencies in traditional finance, it is unsurprising that this trend has continued with the goal of reducing fraud, simplifying convoluted processes, and bringing innovation to capital markets.
BR: In ten years, Bitcoin has gone from a fad among tech enthusiasts on the internet to a legitimate medium of exchange accepted around the world. What do you feel the next ten years has in store for bitcoin and cryptocurrency as a whole?
Cowan: It is difficult to predict what the future cryptocurrency landscape will look like, as the road to true innovation is invariably meandering by nature, with many challenges and obstacles along the way. Fundamentally, there is a demand for new payment practices, and cryptocurrencies offer a viable alternative.
The most successful and sustainable cryptocurrencies will be the ones that can best address the issues affecting traditional payment practices, such as low transaction speeds and high transaction fees. Such offerings will be best positioned to build a sizable community, and in turn, become embedded in the mainstream more quickly and smoothly.
BR: Some would argue that blockchain has gained more acceptance and become ‘bigger’ than bitcoin. Would you agree?
Cowan: While blockchain and bitcoin will always be synonymous, the truth is, the underlying technology is the ‘breakout star’ of the association. Yes, bitcoin’s emergence was the first use-case of the blockchain, but since then, a wide variety of other successful use cases have been developed. This trend will continue in the years ahead, as dedicated teams work diligently behind the scenes on sustainable projects that harness the power of distributed-ledger-technology.
BR: Despite increased acceptance around the world, many still look at Bitcoin as a scammy Internet phenomenon. What can be done to change that?
Cowan: With any new dynamic innovation, there will be a degree of skepticism and cynicism. Until detractors can see first hand the benefits of cryptocurrencies, their views will remain unaltered. I believe regulation, education, and communication are the most important strands for the crypto community to focus on. Those on the periphery of the burgeoning ecosystem can’t relate to the progress that is being enabled by the emergence of cryptocurrencies, so changing the perception of cryptocurrencies as obscure, inaccessible coins to secure, easy to use payment methods is crucial at this juncture.
BR: There seems to be a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of blockchain being used to move large amounts of money for increasingly lower transaction fees and in shorter times. How do you feel mainstream financial institutions will respond to this?
Cowan: The overarching goal in the development of bitcoin, as blockchain’s original use-case, was to disarm the perceived antiquated financial institutions and provide a peer-to-peer alternative payment option. However, well-documented issues such as scalability and slow transaction speeds have been significant hindrances to mainstream adoption. As such, there have been, and will continue to be, efforts to address these issues with the creation of cryptocurrencies that offer scalability, lower transaction fees, and seamless transfers. All of these endeavors aim to dilute the influence of traditional financial institutions in our economies and societies and pave the way towards the future.
The Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange is an offshoot of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange which launched in 2018.
GBX offers a multifaceted ICO and trading ecosystem, currently offers three crypto-to-fiat pairs: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and its own STACS token to USD.
For more information, visit https://gbx.gi