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Here’s What’s Preventing Bitcoin From Going Mainstream Anytime Soon

The key obstacles with further adoption of Bitcoin and the Lightning Network were discussed during a panel at the 2019 MIT Bitcoin Expo. This topic was originally brought up by moderator Marcin Jachymiak of the MIT Bitcoin Club.

The Key Issue is Mental, Not Technical

Jack Mallers, who is the creator of the Zap wallet, was the first panelist to share his thoughts on the matter, noting that the issues with adoption are more mental than technical, at least in the western world. While China is very familiar with QR codes and digital payments, the same is not true in places like the United States.

“Here, I think there’s a serious mental barrier that needs to be broken down as far as people’s relationship with Bitcoin and the asset itself,” said Mallers. “They aren’t comfortable holding it. They don’t look at it as very useful. They look at it as highly speculative.”

Mallers added that it’s possible the approval of a bitcoin ETF and further regulatory clarity could be helpful in getting people more comfortable with this new asset.

“As this industry matures and our relationship with the asset matures, I think that’s a way taller obstacle than the technology itself,” said Mallers. “The technology itself is moving at a grossly rapid rate.”

The Lindy Effect

Lightning Power Users Founder Pierre Rochard agreed with Mallers’s assessment.

“To me, the most important variable in that is just time,” said Rochard. “The longer bitcoin is around coming out every ten minutes with a new block and just working reinforces the psychological aspect of: This thing is going to be around tomorrow, [and] it’s okay for me to hold it and use it today.”

With these comments, Rochard was basically describing the Lindy effect.

“Most people take it seriously like the third time they hear it didn’t die or something,” added Buidl Bootcamp Instructor Justin Moon. “Most people don’t take it seriously the first time, nor should they because there are so many different things to evaluate in your daily life. There’s just not — you don’t have the capacity.”

Rochard compared this phenomenon to the advertising industry where consumers need to be exposed to an ad several times before it has an effect on them.

“To me — and this is why I do what I do — I think it’s largely education,” added Moon in terms of why it’s taking so long for Bitcoin to take over the world. “People just didn’t understand it. They didn’t understand why it’s valuable. They didn’t understand how to use it. And so, I think we just need a lot more [education].”

Moon clarified that it’s also possible Bitcoin simply isn’t a good idea. We don’t know yet.

This story originally appeared in Forbes.

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