The future of bitcoin, the new cyber currency, could be tiny or titanic depending on how it's promoted from here on out. If backers try to make it the universal currency of a new era, bypassing banks and governments, it could end up as "financial Esperanto."
If, however, backers lower their sights and shoot for "financial English," bitcoin could surge as never before.
Why is this comparison important?
According to various estimates, there are between one and two million Esperanto speakers worldwide; and between 335 and 500 million English speakers. Using the high-end estimates for both languages, English clearly dominates by a factor of 250!
If the parallel between languages and currencies is sound, the implications are enormous. No matter how high bitcoin has surged in the past, it could be only a ripple compared to the tsunami ahead!
Bitcoin price, all time, through June 3, 2014.
A bitcoin that was worth $600 in early June might be worth well over $100,000 a few years hence. (This is a wild guess. A bitcoin's value will be based on multiple factors related to demand and usage. Most of today's bitcoin users own little of the currency and make few transactions.)
Coincidentally, the current number of bitcoin users (those with "wallets" holding some amount of bitcoin) roughly equals the estimated Esperanto speakers: between one and two million.
Why is financial English better than financial Esperanto?
If the parallel between languages and currencies is sound, people don't want a single, universal solution for anything -- no matter how groundbreaking or elegant.
Maybe they'll go for "English as a second language," or English as the premiere tongue on the Internet, but they won't give up their Mandarin, French, Spanish, or Swahili. They're just not likely to buy an "Esperanto" solution (in large numbers), despite its virtues.
Similarly, they may go for bitcoin (or litecoin, dogecoin or peercoin), but they'll hang on to their dollars, yen, pesos, or gold, thank you.
As a would-be "English" (functioning mostly as a "second language"), bitcoin now leads the cyber pack by a mile. Keeping that lead may require finding its place in a "supermoney" network, now emerging, that embraces multiple currencies and shifts seamlessly between them.
Read about that in my article, SUPERMONEY: The New Wealth Beyond Banks and Bitcoin.
The growth of a "supermoney" network is part a highly-human megatrend -- the shift to an era of enhanced health, science, mind, economy, culture, and living. For an overview, see Spectacular "Supersociety" Possible Thanks to Highly-Human Shift?
For more information and interaction, see Highly-Human Focus.
About the Author
Richard Samson is director of the EraNova Institute and has served as a consultant to IBM, AT&T, and other large organizations. His work appears in the SuperLife social network; the Highly-Human Focus website (formerly Highly-Human Jobs); and The Futurist Magazine, published by the World Future Society. His books include The Mind Builder, Creative Analysis, The Language Ladder, and Mind Over Technology.