Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, which was created in 2009 by an unknown programmer or a group of them. It is peer-to-peer money transfer open source software, which has no central regulator.
There are many skeptics about Bitcoins, but Ilja Laurs, entrepreneur and founder of “Nextury Ventures” Venture Capital fund, believes this is just another kind of currency: “Bitcoins are real money. You can see it as a really secure protocol and money is just one of the usage of it.” Since this currency is based on very complex mathematical algorithm, it is pretty safe to say Bitcoins are more secure than your email account.
Mr. Laurs also presents a few reasons why it is the perfect time to talk about Bitcoins, as nowadays existing currencies are not compatible with fast and rapidly changing IT innovations. We were taught that banks might be the most secure place to hold your money. Lehman Brothers case proved us wrong. Practically speaking it is extremely easy to get your credit card details stolen or hacked. Anytime paying in a restaurant a waitress could take a picture of your credit card details and order anything online. Additionally, money transfers from one country to another takes several days and with a charge of approximately $50. In 2016 it should be managed in only a few seconds, with a minimum of effort and cost only.
For those who affiliate Bitcoins with illegal activity, Ilja Laurs has a good response: “Yes, Bitcoins can be used in many good and bad ways, but so does the email. Politicians, journalists, activists are using email to communicate – so just because drug dealers are also sending letters – should we stop using Gmail?” Sadly, illegal businesses saw the opportunity in Bitcoins first. That’s why we need to work on using cryptocurrency to our advantage. In order to show how Bitcoins can be used in a more positive way we need to invest our time to educate people in the usage of cryptocurrency. “Lithuania is not big enough to expect to have a high added value from the classic economic sectors”- Ilya Laurs states. Lithuania has to learn a lesson from Japan or Korea, which used technology progress as a way to benefit their economy.
Therefore, Lithuania should choose a few verticals and focus on them. We cannot try to invest in too many fields at once, with an expectation of good results everywhere. According to Ilja Laurs – Lithuania’s government has to measure their options, and afterwards select those varieties where it actually has a chance to succeed. Bitcoins are one of the best paths politicians can take.
“If we evaluate Lithuania’s banking sector it might be safe to say that we have a lot to offer, starting with infrastructure and big players like Danske Bank and Barclays opening huge offices, ending with professionals who have the knowledge to succeed.”, Laurs adds. Lithuania is a small country, but this can be big plus, since the implementation of new technologies can be done faster and cheaper.
There are plenty of investors who are ready to spend millions of dollars to fintech startups, but the missing laws are stopping those processes. Right now, Bitcoins are in the twilight zone of regulation – it’s neither approved by the government, nor banned. So if you would start a company working with cryptocurrency, there is no assurance of Bitcoin’s future, since the laws can change in both ways.
To sum up, if Lithuania will figure Bitcoin’s place in the market, it has a big chance to become a leader in cryptocurrency, in the same way Japan leads in technology since the 20th century.