If you’re stupid enough to buy bitcoin, you’ll pay for it, ”said JP Morgan president Jamie Dimon at the end of 2017. At that time, the largest cryptocurrency in the world was immersed in a vertiginous climb that attracted all eyes from the world of investment and also from outside it, as a growing number of people began to see in this universe so little known a profit guarantee.
The collapse of prices that began a few months later seemed to prove the prestigious banker, who had labeled “digital currency” fraud. In less than a year, bitcoin saw 80% of its price vanish and the cryptocurrency market hit more than 700,000 million dollars (625,000 million euros). The bubble had punctured. The cryptocurrencies … had they died?
Dimon himself would be responsible for clearing that doubt. Last February, his bank surprised by becoming the first US entity to create its own cryptocurrency, the JPM Coin, to manage payments through blockchain technology. And the truth is the interest in digital currencies of the largest bank in the world for market value is not, by far, an exception in the financial world.
Fidelity, one of the world’s largest managers, keeps several projects around cryptocurrencies open and plans to immediately launch a negotiation service for these assets for its institutional clients, as Bloomberg recently published. The collapse of prices has not meant, much less, the abandonment of digital currencies.
“Good startups have been set up, technology has been greatly improved, the use of crypto is facilitated for all types of users through new, more usable wallets or exchanges, and we have even seen large companies bet on cryptocurrencies,” he explains. Eneko Knörr, co-founder of Onyze, a Madrid startup that safeguards cryptocurrencies for banks, funds and other large clients.
One of these recent projects has a Spanish seal and has been baptized as 2gether, one of the so-called neobanks (in the style of N26, Revolut, Monzo or Bnext), which is distinguished by being mounted on its own cryptocurrency or token (called 2GT) and which aims to support both the traditional economy and the new economy based on digital assets.
The first of these characteristics means that the client of the platform contributes to its financing and is, therefore, owner, which allows you to enjoy services without commissions, have a voice in strategic decisions and capture part of the income generated for the platform when, for example, you acquire a financial product from a third party.
Regarding the second, 2gether allows the user to operate through the platform interchangeably with their funds in euros or in digital currencies, a service that translates, for example, in that thanks to their collaboration with Visa, their customers they can make card payments in cryptocurrencies, something in which they are defined as pioneers in Europe.
“The mission of 2gether is to facilitate the transition to a new decentralized economy. We believe that blockchain technology with the possibility of transmitting value in a decentralized manner, without an agent involved, will generate a new type of economy that will coexist with the previous one, based on these decentralized models, which will have currencies other than the euro ”, explains Ramón Ferraz, CEO of the entity.
Ferraz acknowledges that the uncertainties generated by the collapse of prices since the beginning of 2018 have been a drag on the financing of projects, but they have not stopped the work of those who bet because blockchain will involve a draft transformation in the way of doing business.
The truth is that, regardless of the fluctuations of digital currencies, in the business world few voices have dared to question the potential of blockchain technology, considered the basis of a future innovation as relevant, at least, as the one that Internet has meant in recent decades, with the ability to revolutionize almost any business area. With its block system, which allows all types of transactions between individuals to be made reliably without the need for an intermediary that guarantees the operation, it could force a rethink of much of the current business logic.
However, and despite their close relationship, cryptocurrencies have generated more doubts and some have drawn a blockchain future without cryptocurrencies, a scenario that Ferraz does not see feasible. “There is something going on, which is relatively logical, but which is wrong at the root. There are many people who are trying to apply blockchain to gain efficiency, but today, in the state in which the technology is, blockchain is more inefficient than any other technology. Gaining efficiency today with blockchain is not possible, ”he says.
Instead, the CEO of 2gether emphasizes that “what is possible is to create economic models in which trust is not in a central element but in the community. That is the great advance of blockchain and to create these decentralized models, cryptocurrency is needed, ”he says.
But if the future of cryptocurrencies can be taken for granted, how many and which will be part of that future is much more debatable. The investment bank GP Bullhound predicted about a year ago a debacle in which around 90% of cryptocurrencies would disappear and only resist a few.
The best known cryptocurrencies to date, with bitcoin in the lead, are intended to become a means of payment, a substitute for current money. For this use, Nereida González, a consultant in the International Financial Analyst Markets (AFI) area, believes that a reduction in the number of existing digital currencies would be logical. “The initial objective was to reduce transaction costs. If each community accepts a different one, trade barriers would increase, ”he observes.
However, a more open vision of what tokens can represent as an asset for the exchange of resources does allow us to imagine a much more populated universe, “just as there are countless actions,” says González.
This idea is shared by Ramón Ferraz, who sees a future in which the use of these assets is so widespread that a kid can create his own digital asset to offer his services to teach in his own urbanization. “The point is that there will be tokens supporting very different use cases. The best known now are currency: bitcoin and its variants … But there are many more use cases, any decentralized business model based on incentives will have a different currency, ”says the expert, who cites as examples the existing cases of Filecoin or Brave. “I perceive a world in which much more of these models are consolidated, people start using them and there are many more of these currencies,” he adds.
This does not mean, far from it, that all existing cryptocurrencies will survive in the current environment. In fact, the 2gether expert predicts that many of the existing projects today will end up falling, just as it happened with a host of Internet-related businesses in the mid-90s.
The development of this technology is still so incipient and its uses so little known that experts assume that it will take a long time to become a massive phenomenon. In 2gether, without going any further, they have focused on this stage of their business in the public that is already immersed in the world of cryptocurrencies while trying to extend their knowledge to a wider audience, based on what they call digital experimenter ( the profile related to the collaborative economy, pioneer in the use of models such as Uber, Airbnb or Car2Go) and the digital banker (the client who is already immersed in financial innovation and the digital transformation of banking).