All the CEOs seemed to be under 25 and few had anything nice to say about banks. But at the “Inside Bitcoin—the future of virtual currency” conference in New York this week, some in the assembled digital currency brain trust had a vision of how the new payments platforms and the old guard could eventually work together.
“The current financial system is outdated,” said Jaron Lukasiewicz, CEO of Coinsetter, a bitcoin trading platform. “And banking Websites are ridiculously buggy….This is almost a customer revolution, saying `We’re the customer, and we know what we want.’”
Charlie Schrem, CEO of BitInstant, was not much more charitable in describing the need that merchants have for an alternative to the current payment processing ecosystem.
“There are crazy fees and two week settlement time for credit card payments—that sucks,” said Schrem, whose BitInstant online exchange has suffered technical difficulties due in part to extreme demand in the past few months.
Schrem did go on to describe a future financial system in which banks work with bitcoin to smooth the flow of money.
“Bitcoin is not going to shut down banks; there is extreme potential for banks, even SWIFT, to work with bitcoin,” Schrem told the crowd of more than 250—an eclectic mix of hackers, bitcoin entrepreneurs, VCs, bankers, journalists and a slew of other random folks who have a tangential personal or professional interest in bitcoin.
Others in the audience speculated who would be the first major financial player—American Express? Target?—to start dealing in bitcoins.
Missed this bitcoin gathering? Fear not. This year’s ATM, Debit & Prepaid Forum will tell you just about everything bankers and payments professionals need to know about bitcoin and digital currencies in a new group of sessions we’re cutely calling BitCoin for Bankers. Sessions in the digital money track will include:
- Bitcoin for Bankers: Virtual Currency Overview
- Compliance and AML
- The Merchant Perspective on Digital Money
- Beyond Bitcoin – Other New Monies