The not for profit Foundation was formed in 2012 in the US with the mission to standardise, protect and promote the use of the digital currency worldwide and it now has more than 500 members. The majority of its members are organisations that base their businesses around the currency, such as Bitpay, CoinLab and Bitcoin Store.
Bitcoin is a peer to peer payment system that allows users to generate digital currency through the action of “mining” via the power of their computer processors. To date most Bitcoin users are technology enthusiasts or investors, but it has made headlines in recent months due to the relative high monetary value the new programmatic currency has shot to.
Speaking to Marketing Week at The Festival of Media Global in Rome, the Bitcoin Foundation executive director Jon Matonis said while the currency is unlikely to become mainstream in the next “two to three years”, he does not believe widespread adoption is necessary for the currency’s success.
Instead, he believes test cases in developing countries such as Argentina – where many residents are keen to break out from the Pesa currency – and Cyprus – where inhabitants have recently been levied with a tax on their bank accounts – will demonstrate the benefits of Bitcoin, which operates outside the governance of banking or government institutions, and help adoption grow organically.
He said the mission of the Bitcoin Foundation in the UK will be to demonstrate how brands can gain “notoriety” by accepting the currency. He explained how a bar in Berlin, Bar 77, had all the major broadcast news organisations “queuing out the door” to interview the owner once it accepted Bitcoin, which highlighted the PR opportunity.
He admitted that Bitcoin acceptance may not be a major benefit to major retailers such as Tesco or Wal-Mart-owned Asda, but that brands that are not leaders in their sector could gain a “competitive advantage” by promoting Bitcoin.
Matonis said the agenda for the Bitcoin Foundation in 2014 was “internationalisation”, as 50 per cent of its members are currently based outside of the US.
After the London office is opened later this year, the Foundation plans to expand to other European countries to help promote the currency that he describes as the “(Filesharing service) Limewire for money”.