Bitcoin (BTC)–On Thursday Gil Beyda, managing director for the venture capital extension of Comcast, appeared on CNBC to talk about the future of Bitcoin and possible applications for blockchain technology. While his appearance did not directly reveal any proposed relationship between Comcast and Bitcoin, his conversation was overwhelmingly positive on the virtues of cryptocurrency. Compared to the usual talk by executives on the dangers of crypto and the looming bubble, particularly by the flip-flopping platform that is CNBC, it was refreshing to see a company hold such a positive and candid view on BTC.
Bitcoin Uses and Looming Disruption
In addition to being bullish on the future price of Bitcoin, Beyda believes that cryptocurrency holds major implications for the developing world. For starters, blockchain is one of the most obvious and potentially revolutionary applications to voter-fraud. In countries that have yet to establish voting poll practices, blockchain voting through cryptocurrency could become the standard so long as the technological infrastructure can be put into place. Likewise, crypto-based economies circumvent the need for a traditional banking structure. If Elon Musk and other futurists succeed in blanketing the globe with internet access, these underdeveloped countries could be the first to establish entirely crypto-based economies. This avoids the common occurrence of hyperinflation in developing countries, such as the type impacting Zimbabwe that gave rise to the internet meme of one billion dollar fiat notes.
It also gives individuals and small business owners the ability to transact in a secure, digital currency without going the traditional banking route. While most of the developed world views banks as bastions of financial security and loans for business growth, developing countries do not share the same luxury. Citizens of the U.S. take for granted their accounts are covered up to 100,000 USD by the FDIC. In developing countries, savings accounts are only safe so long as the bank can avoid insolvency or the conditions that lead to a run. Financial institutions in these regions can also be equal sources of corruption and prejudicial gatekeepers to economic growth. Crypto provides an alternative route to banking, with the market being able to allocate resources, loans and money wires in an affordable fashion to individual workers. There are also advantages to cryptocurrency implementation that may have been unthought of to this point, such as improved payroll processes and the ability for workers to seamlessly transfer and allocate their funds.
In addition to circumventing the traditional banking structure, going straight to cryptocurrency avoids all of the efficiencies surrounding the current model of digital money in developed countries. City planners have long commented on the advantages of developing countries in skipping wired telephones and electricity lines to move directly to an implementation of wireless technology. Crypto may provide a similar advantage, with developing countries able to fully utilize secure, digital tender without the emotional and social implications found in countries like the United States. Ironically, while most of the developed world argues over how to regulate and control cryptocurrency, the developing world could embrace the technology outright and thereby find an advantage in the future landscape of finance.
What Could Comcast bring to Cryptocurrency?
While Comcast has yet to endorse Bitcoin directly via implementation, the most obvious way the cable provider could show support for the cryptocurrency is by accepting BTC for payment. Cryptos are inherently useful as currencies, which means the first move in adoption is almost always through greater acceptance as a source of digital tender. Comcast could be one of the first large-scale companies, outside of Overstock.com, to accept BTC directly as opposed to using a fiat intermediary service like Bitpay. Accepting Bitcoin for payment opens the company to the volatility of cryptocurrency, a situation most companies would prefer to avoid. However, it also gives Comcast greater exposure to the cryptocurrency community, and builds some interest in the cable-provider space that has become stale over the years.
Beyda’s representation of Comcast is via the company’s more risk-inclined venture capital subsidiary. They have already invested in several blockchain startups and have formed four partnerships with blockchain-based firms. By posing a bullish sentiment towards Bitcoin, Beyda could be drumming up hype for cryptocurrency in order to improve their outlook in the investment space. However, given the close between the venture capital team and the 150 billion USD market cap of Comcast, it’s likely the cable provider will offer some advantage to the crypto space in the near future. This could happen in the form of greater blockchain integration in their maintenance process, similar to how other industries are tracking manufacturing and services on the blockchain. It could also result in some cross-pollination between internet companies and Bitcoin. With the fall of net neutrality in the United States, cable providers will hold a disproportionate amount of power in the digital realm. Comcast could dictate, through both political and economic channels, a greater acceptance of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.
At the very least, having a figure as powerful as Gil Beyda, through his representation of Comcast, is only going to help the position of Bitcoin as we enter a period of rapid adoption.