Featured in a recent SKY magazine article, British entrepreneur Richard Branson gives a nod to Bitcoin, viewing it as a step towards a global currency of the future with the potential to unite humanity.
Bitcoin in the spotlight
A few months ago, Branson announced that his Virgin Galactic startup venture would give people wishing to fly beyond the Earth’s atmosphere a chance to book their flights with Bitcoin. Flights are expected to begin in 2015 at a price of $US 250,000 per flight or approximately 251 BTC at press time.
Although most people would say that this is yet another one of Branson’s clever PR strategy, the additional publicity for the cryptocurrency goes hand-in-hand with Virgin Galactic’s “daredevil innovation” image – and can only boost Bitcoin as a brand. And in this month’s issue of SKY, Branson has again acknowledged Bitcoin's potential as technological innovation:
“It was a genius who set [Bitcoin] up. It may not be the perfect global currency of the future yet, but it’s the pioneer of a global currency.”
Branson went on to mention some of Bitcoin’s flaws citing its lack of transparency, which he further explains on the Virgin Galactic’s website:
"The lack of transparency from Bitcoin’s founders has attracted some criticism, but its open source nature means anyone can audit the code. It is a brilliantly conceived idea to allow users to power the peer-to-peer payment network themselves, providing control and freedom for consumers. Bitcoins aren’t yet formally recognized by governments as a currency but with some regulation I hope that it will become more widely accepted.”
Branson predicts that in the future, successful digital currency could come from the likes of his close associate, Jack Dorsey, CEO of the debit and credit card payment processing service for Square Market, one of Branson’s investments. “He’s the kind that’s more likely to come up with the currency of the future that would be completely transparent,” Branson said, suggesting that Dorsey could do this while “maybe using the Virgin Money brand.”
Virgin Money rapidly expanded as a bank in the past few years with the purchase of Northern Rock back in 2012.
Meanwhile, community members on Reddit have expressed disapproval of Branson’s “bandwagon behavior” calling it another one of the entrepreneur’s stunts to promote his businesses such as Virgin Galactic, Virgin Money and his investment in Square Market.
Many have also criticized Branson for not fully understanding the open-source nature of cryptocurrencies and the transaction ledger, which keeps a chronological record of every Bitcoin transaction ever made. “It’s pretty hard to be ‘more transparent,’” said one Reddit user.
Another inquisitive redditor raised the interesting question of why Branson won’t allow his other companies to accept Bitcoin such as Virgin Mobile for cell phone payments.
So is Branson a man of the people, a visionary and futurist as he positions himself? Or is he simply riding the Bitcoin wave to keep his name in the papers? Cointelegraph would like to hear your thoughts – let us know in the comments.