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Expert opinion

Bitcoin, blockchain: not a grassroots academic beta experiment anymore

Tuesday 28 March 2017 | 09:14 AM CET

Ashok Misra: There is a general appreciation of the fact that the security underpinning the blockchain is much more robust than the security employed for conventional payments

I moderated a panel on alternative payments on 16th February 2017 at the 10th Merchant Payments Ecosystem in Berlin, Germany.

I had a diverse set of presenters with different viewpoints on the technology: Tony Gallippi - the co-founder and current Chairman of bitpay, Alexander Shelkovnikov who leads Deloitte’s business incubation and Joao Reginatto - Director for European Product and Operations with Circle.

The panel had divergent views on the solutions to the issues that have befallen us. For instance, on the subject of blocksize and scaling, a section of the panel felt that the community must firstly decide if bitcoin is a store of value or a transaction network. A suitable approach to the way the roadmap must be addressed depends on the response to that question. Those who feel that blocksize is not a serious issue point to decentralized scaling solutions using smart contract functionality such as the lighting network.

Elementary questions around blockchain security seem to come up less often these days. My takeaway is that evangelization is working and there is a general appreciation of the fact that the security underpinning the blockchain is much more robust than the security employed for conventional payments.

A frequent discussion point is around the relative advantages of various blockchains. Bitcoin purists (yours sincerely included) continue to steadfastly maintain that there is only one path to the truth i.e. the Nakamoto one. The dissidents camp point to the large number of applications being built on other blockchains and the non-Turing limitation of the Nakamoto vision. This debate is not going to settle anytime soon.

The question around why cryptocurrency is still not mainstream continues to be a valid question. The number of large merchants accepting bitcoin as a form of payment seems to have slowed down recently. Opponents to that viewpoint point to the explosion of interest in smart contracts and non-financial applications of the technology.

To summarize, it is clear that we have entered an inflection point with cryptocurrency where we can expect much more stability and a huge growth in market capitalization.

About Ashok Misra:

Mr. Ashok Misra is employed by Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Washington. He is responsible for PCI compliance for all of Microsoft’s web properties. Ashok is an indefatigable ecommerce professional with more than 15 years experience in ecommerce architecture and operations. He has considerable experience in crypto currencies and in Blockchain technologies. He is widely regarded as a Payment Security Expert and possesses in-depth knowledge on PCI Compliance. He has a deep knowledge of country specific payment methods and mobile payments.

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