In 2017, cryptocurrency startups raised $5.6 billion through ICOs (initial coin offerings, a fundraising strategy by which creators of digital coins and tokens like bitcoin and Ethereum sell their tokens to investors in order to fund the currency’s launch).
With so many ICOs underway, one might say the cryptocurrency space has quickly grown oversaturated – or at the very least, overwhelming.
But Mobius co-founder and CEO David Gobaud wouldn’t say so. In fact, Gobaud believes blockchain is just getting started – and the cryptocurrencies that everyone’s so excited about are simply the most basic application of the technology.
“It’s like the early days of the internet,” Gobaud said. “The technology is still developing. Right now, people using bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies can’t all shop at the same place. The reason cryptos haven’t been adopted for consumer use yet is because it’s so early and they’re still hard to use.”
With a fresh $39 million ICO on the books, said Gobaud, “We are trying to make it easy.”
Gobaud said the challenge is two-sided: it is too hard for developers to integrate cryptos, and too hard for consumers to use them in settings where they want to be spending money.
What Mobius has done so far to address this is to create a Stripe-like API (application programming interface) for blockchain to ease the integration pain point, while simultaneously launching a consumer app store that lets regular people pay companies using their cryptocurrency assets.
Today, Gobaud said, it is only possible to spend Mobius’s own tokens, Mobi coins, in the app — but the company is working to integrate a variety of cryptocurrencies to promote their broader adoption as an eCommerce payment method. The wallet can hold any Stellar-based crypto, he said.
However, Gobaud acknowledges that even that will only address one facet of the challenges that cryptos face today. The security of the technology is a major concern, he said, with reports of people losing their secret keys or huge chunks of their crypto funds.
Until that issue gets solved (and Gobaud said it’s something Mobius, among others, is working on), cryptocurrencies will not make it into the mainstream.
There is a lot of data in the world, and there’s only going to be more as technologies continue to proliferate. From weather and humidity sensors to self-driving cars, every connected device generates data. Gobaud predicts that data commerce will become a reality as businesses look for ways to buy and sell data in a fast, secure way – and he believes that blockchain will be the way to do that.
Again, once the security kinks get ironed out.
Gobaud also predicts that blockchain will have applications in countries where the government heavily restricts people’s money (like China) or where the currency is unstable. He said that adoption will be quicker in those regions because blockchain puts individuals in control.
China’s cryptocurrency bans will not be able to stop this from happening, Gobaud says. The country also has an internet firewall, but people simply use VPNs (virtual private networks) to get around it. Blockchain, he said, is an open technology, making it even more difficult to ban.
As for stability, Gobaud predicts that the current market volatility will settle with time as the technology develops. It won’t be thousand-dollar spikes and dips forever. Just like fine wine or the internet, blockchain simply needs time to mature and improve, he said.
“The internet, at a basic level, allows instant worldwide communication,” Gobaud said. “Cryptos have a similar aspect in allowing people to truly control their own money, independent of governments or banks. That’s a compelling feature that people will want.”