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Let's Cut Through the Bitcoin Hype: A Hacker-Entrepreneur's Take | Wired Opinion |

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I walked into a Jamba Juice recently, and was informed in no uncertain terms that if I attempted to use anything larger than a $20 bill, or if my credit card was demagnetized, no smoothie for me. (I can’t even imagine the blank look I’d have gotten if I’d tried to pay with a personal check.)

We do have credit cards. But credit cards change money from something anyone can give anyone (peer to peer) to something with a consumer class (client) and a merchant class (server). There are innovative startups that attempt to reverse that, and every time one of these systems pops up — Square, Stripe, Venmo — billions of dollars starts flowing through them.

We wouldn’t get this sort of growth without pent-up demand. But even the new systems find themselves failing — I love Paypal, but is there anyone who hasn’t either had their account suspended, or knows someone who has? I’ve certainly never had a $20 in my pocket go dark for 48 hours.

Bitcoin’s got its issues. But it is not competing with perfection.

Three observations:

1. Would Bitcoin be popular if there weren't illegal things a person could do with it? No.

(That said, not everyone who acquires Bitcoins intends to do illegal things with it.)

2. Will new payment systems and currencies keep emerging? Yes.

(There's money to be made every time money changes hands.)

3. Will a lot of people make money -- and a lot of people lose money -- from emerging money systems?

Of course.