Bitcoin’s mainstream adoption is now facing a watershed moment, according to a recent report by Citi.
The report, published on March 1, suggests that Bitcoin is at a “tipping point” that could lead either to mainstream acceptance or a “speculative implosion.”
The researchers suggest that Bitcoin’s adoption grew at an astonishing, but not unexpected rate, as the “time it takes a new product to become widely used by global customers has decreased dramatically.”
Noting that it took the telephone 50 years to reach 50 million customers, television 22 years, the Internet seven years and Pokémon Go just 19 days, the report’s authors conclude “it’s not a surprise the uptake of Bitcoin in the past almost seven years has been nothing but extraordinary.”
The bank’s report admits that Bitcoin has sharply increased in usage and value—recently reaching $1 trillion of market cap—and even spawned a whole ecosystem of businesses and services around it. What is coming next, it adds, could be actual adoption.
“Where could Bitcoin be in another seven or so years,” the report asks.
Given its advantages in global payments—including the decentralized design, lack of foreign exchange exposure, the ability to make money far faster and cheaper than current systems, and that it offers secure payment channels and traceability—the report concludes that “Bitcoin’s global reach and neutrality could spur it to become the currency of choice for international trade.”
Beyond that, the researchers found that Bitcoin is “evolving as the ‘North Star’ in the digital asset space and is a compass for the evolution of a broader ecosystem of crypto commerce.”
And new innovations in the broader cryptocurrency space—notably the growing acceptance of fiat-backed stablecoins—“may build pressure for central banks to consider their own digital currency options,” it added.
Furthermore, Citi researchers also point out that the coin shifted from “being primarily a retail-focused endeavor to something that looks attractive for institutional investors.” This is arguably a recent enough phenomenon that many argue that significant institutional participation is what sets the latest Bitcoin bull run apart from the other ones.
Already this year, Bitcoin has earned adoption by United States’ oldest bank BNY Mellon, payment processing giants Mastercard and Visa as well as many major investors ranging from Tesla and Mass Mutual insurance to MicroStrategy.