What Good is Bitcoin if People Don't Accept It? (Op-Ed)

Note: the following article was submitted as part of Cointelegraph’s Super Writers Contest.

Bitcoin may be a fine example of decentralized engineering, an amazing technical tour de force, and even a possible solution to the world's money problems. But what good is all of that if people don't hear about bitcoin, embrace it, and learn to use it? 

A story of alternative currencies

During America’s Revolutionary War the new alternative currency was the Continental Dollar, and when it failed, the people's confidence in paper money was deeply affected. As a result the US Constitution specifically prohibited any state from making anything but gold or silver legal tender in payment of debts. The US government didn't again issue paper money until 74 years after the signing of the Constitution, around the beginning of the Civil War.

Sometimes a new currency can meet its political demise. President Abraham Lincoln's unbacked Greenbacks, despite being debt free currency, or perhaps because of it, didn't get much of a chance to endure. It carried no interest payments to use it, and the president considered this his greatest gift to America. Lincoln declared:

"I have two great enemies, the Southern army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. And of the two, the bankers are my greatest foe."

Abraham Lincoln

The bankers published an ominous declaration of their own in the London Times:

"If this mischievous financial policy, which has its origin in North America, shall become endurated down to a fixture, then that Government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off debts and be without debt. It will have all the money necessary to carry on its commerce. It will become prosperous without precedent in the history of the world. The brains and wealth of all countries will go to North America. That country must be destroyed or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe."

After successfully issuing over US$450 million in America's newest paper money, Lincoln was assassinated. The war was over, and the money was immediately recalled.

Fast forward to the late 1990s, during which there were two major experiments in establishing an alternative currency. One was called Beenz, which reflected some of the creators' insight in choosing a catchy name. But Beenz was described as a vaguely worded point system that few could understand. And its sketchy method of bypassing currency laws did not inspire confidence. It was soon forgotten as the new millennium approached after a failed attempt to go public.

Also during this decade was the innovative money scheme called Flooz, which entirely by coincidence rhymed with "lose." So from the start it had that subliminal effect going against it. But everyone knew S&H Green Stamps and Flooz were based on a similar idea that rewarded customer loyalty. After two years and US$50 million in venture capital money, it also failed. Not that it wasn't popular. Its biggest user was reportedly the Russian mob, who preferred Flooz over other money laundering methods. Not even Whoopie Goldberg's sponsorship would save this one.

At least bitcoin doesn't end with a "z." That would have probably led to its early demise. A choice of a name can carry a lot of weight. Imagine being offered to trade your hard earned dollars for some bitcoinz, or maybe some roonz. No thank you.

Since the 1990s, Japan has suffered a series of economic problems. As a result, this country is today estimated to have over 600 active alternative currencies in