Baby boomers are the richest generation in US history, accounting for 70 percent of the nation’s disposable income, and inheriting some $13 tln in the next 20 years.
Yet Bitcoin users over 55 years old account for less than seven percent of the total market. What’s stopping the older generation from entering this $87 bln market? And what will happen to the value of the cryptocurrency market when baby boomers finally get on board?
Why baby boomers have yet to adopt cryptocurrency
First, let’s talk about why baby boomers have yet to adopt cryptocurrency. Besides general slowness, the reasons might be as following:
Steep learning curve - understanding what cryptocurrency is, and how it works, requires a few building blocks of knowledge
Buying cryptocurrency isn’t easy - knowing which exchange to trust and where to begin typically involves a word of mouth recommendation
No safety net - transactions cannot be reversed in case of an error, and losing your private key means losing your money for good.
Currently, there aren’t many ways to spend it, besides buying other cryptocurrencies.
Price is volatile - when the price of pizza can fluctuate wildly from minute to minute, people tend to use cash, which gives them some peace of mind, knowing that their slice won’t cost them a mortgage payment.
With the percentage of baby boomers with smartphones passing 60 percent, the vast wealth of this generation is within reach for those who can solve these challenges of adoption.
Already, the market is showing signs of responding to this opportunity. At Ideacity, legendary media mogul Moses Znaimer’s annual conference in Toronto that gives a stage to the ideas, trends, challenges and innovations that shape the discourse of the day, Blockchain education and cryptocurrency innovation took center stage. First came a talk by Don Tapscott, one of the world’s foremost Blockchain educators, and second with an innovation from a company called Impak Finance that aims to address these barriers to adoption.
Tapscott, a leading authority on innovation, media, and the economic and social impact of technology and author of “Blockchain Revolution,” took on the daunting task of explaining Blockchain to a room of mostly 50 to 75 year-olds, and did remarkably well.
His soon-to-be trademark “Blockchain transaction explained in two minutes” was exceptionally clear, and left the audience feeling as if they had the basic building blocks for understanding how Blockchain might change the world.
Explaining the Blockchain
At one point, Tapscott uses a rather vivid analogy to describe how hacking data stored on a Blockchain is the equivalent of turning a processed Chicken McNugget back into a chicken; quite impossible.
Tapscott ends his talk with an analogy of looking at the behavior of starlings (a species of birds) known as murmuration and how it mirrors the trust protocol of Blockchain. The beauty of all of this is how such a spontaneous order is made manifest in something man-made.
Blockchain is, similar to the unknown author of Bitcoin and in the words of this author, what economists of old have spoken about many-a-time - the “invisible hand” of capitalism.
After Tapscott explained how Blockchain works in principle, and its potential for disruption, Paul Allard and Andy Krupski, co-founders of Impak Finance, offered a practical use case of using Blockchain for disruption, impak Coin, a cryptocurrency designed to create positive social impact.
Allard begins with the big picture: half the world still owns one percent of the world’s wealth in 2016. To counteract this inequality, the impact economy is emerging as a worldwide movement in the fight against society’s toughest challenges such as persistent poverty and environmental destruction.
In this fast-growing sector, organizations and individual’s intention is to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return. Creators of MPK claim that their cryptocurrency was designed to address the barriers to adoption that cryptocurrency faces: namely, private keys are held by a decentralized governance body to mitigate risk to the user, the price is stabilized through independent market-making, and an ecosystem of impact businesses accept the impak Coin.
There is still much education to be done before baby boomers start owning e-wallets en masse but talks like Don Tapscott’s and innovations like impak Coin, represent a meaningful step in the right direction.
By Tian Zhao
Disclaimer: Tian Zhao is a UX/UI Designer active in the Toronto Blockchain/Crypto community and various other high-impact entrepreneurial communities such as The Centre for Social Innovation, The Next 36, Hive Fellowship, and Thiel Foundation / 1517 Fund, and the Toronto/Waterloo/Kitchener Corridor-at-large. He’s worked and is currently working with various Blockchain startups - Cryptiv, TokenFunder, Polymath, Arkilio, and Crypto Consultant.
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