We all ask or ponder about what stage Bitcoin is at in terms of adoption and usage. I think that if we are to answer this question we need to look at models that fit in with the lifecycle of a technology. The process of adoption of a successful technology over time is typically illustrated as a “Bell Curve” as devised by Joe M. Bohlen, George M. Beal and Everett M. Rogers.
They developed this study based on agriculture and home economics but it can also be applied to technology phases. This study summarised the categories of this “Bell Curve” as:
- innovators – had larger farms, were more educated, more prosperous and more risk-oriented
- early adopters – younger, more educated, tended to be community leaders, less prosperous
- early majority – more conservative but open to new ideas, active in community and influence to neighbours
- late majority – older, less educated, fairly conservative and less socially active
- laggards – very conservative, had small farms and capital, oldest and least educated
It is not hard to see how this model can apply to technologies and even Bitcoin in this case. Personally I feel that we are at the end of the innovators stage and gradually progressing to the early adopters stage. I say this because Bitcoin as a currency, technology, payments system, etc, is still tiny when compared to other competing services. Visa still dwarfs Bitcoin for the number of transactions it carries out and not many people across the world are using Bitcoin as a currency and as a technology. In this sense Bitcoin has much growing up to do.
But as mentioned in other articles it will happen with time. We seem to be in the ‘chasm stage’. This is a stage that each new technology faces and a gap of transition between each phase that a technology moves through. I personally feel that we are transitioning to the early adopters phase thanks to the development of new services and new VC funding which has helped to grow the Bitcoin ecosystem. This has made Bitcoin a viable currency and technology in the eyes of the early adopters. Who are these early adopters? The thinkers, doers and nerds of todays society. These are people who aren’t put off by todays negative mainstream view and perception of Bitcoin.
They can see Bitcoin as a promising and exciting technology. An opportunity if you will. Where many people see a problem or obstacle a select few will always see an opportunity. Bitcoin is that opportunity. An opportunity to change the face of currency, to make it faster and more efficient. To change global remittances, to allow people to become their own bank with the help of a programable money that is also a content type. We are in my opinion, now bridging that gap to the early adopters phase thanks to the growth of the Bitcoin structure and network.