Few American innovators can match the success of Henry Ford. According to legend, when asked how public demand factored into his automotive success, Ford quipped, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” There’s no denying the power of understanding what a customer base wants and delivering it to them, but Ford’s genius was seeing beyond the restrictions of the status quo and instead creating something new that not only captivated the marketplace but fundamentally changed the fabric of society.
Ford’s famous quote resonates well with the current state of cryptocurrency. Crypto has arisen in an era in which many segments of the public, fueled by growing discontent and distrust for the banking industry after the Great Recession, have yearned for an alternative to those behemoth institutions. It combines elements of a currency that frees users from the big banks, a payment system with low fees and an investment vehicle that fits the ever-evolving scope of the digital age.
Ford didn’t build the Model T in a day. He didn’t start to mass produce it the following week, either. And the car certainly didn’t show up in many driveways the next month. It took a revolution from the inside out to convince the masses to put their horses back in the pasture and turn to the wonders of the automobile.
That sort of methodical progression is an excellent parallel to the current cryptocurrency environment. Cryptocurrency and the blockchain technology that powers it are every bit as revolutionary to global finance as the Model T was to transportation. They are also as foreign of a concept to most of the public as the Model T and mass production lines were 110 years ago. So, in order to better position ourselves to capitalize on the world-altering innovations of today, let’s see what we can learn from those of the past.
The Trouble With Transitions
Although it doesn’t receive a lot of attention in most textbooks, the move from the horse to the automobile was a long and difficult one. It took nearly 50 years for the latter to completely replace the former. Ultimately, the move forced changes in multiple industries and environments, from the condition of roads to the advancements of maps to an entirely new section of laws, including local, state and federal.
This will likely sound familiar to cryptocurrency users. Governments around the world are enacting entirely new laws and regulations to mandate every facet of cryptocurrency, but it’s a slow process that requires studies and documentation at every step. This new paradigm to facilitate payments is completely new and is constantly being upgraded and refined. And the transition for many, of going from fiat currency and traditional investments to digital currency and high-tech investments, will take some getting used to -- just as many American struggled to get into a car rather than onto a horse.
New Industries Born
The number of new industries born as a result of the automobile industry is almost too many to comprehend: gas stations, auto mechanics, tires, car stereos, car washes, tools, paint, body shops -- the list goes on and on. One product line has spawned millions upon millions of jobs and created an entire industry.
As the industries for cryptocurrency and blockchain begin to expand and take shape, they are providing analogous opportunities for new types of companies, such as exchanges, wallets and Bitcoin IRAs. However, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. As more and more enterprises become comfortable with the security and effectiveness of blockchain, we will surely see a host of completely new and innovative business models.
Competition Breeds Further Innovation
While the average person might believe Henry Ford invented the car (he didn’t) and the mass production assembly line for cars (he didn’t do that either), he was simply building on what his competition had already done to deliver a faster, less expensive, better product. Ford’s line drove his competitors to achieve wonders of their own -- even more than a century later.
The same will hold true with cryptocurrency -- in fact, it has already begun to happen. While most people automatically think about bitcoin when they hear of cryptocurrency or blockchain, countless other players have already emerged and are continuing to do so, with each trying to further revolutionize the market and build on the success of the ventures that have come before them. Think about the Model T compared to a modern Corvette. They’re both cars, but every single component of the sports car outstrips the sedan of yesteryear, and it has features that Ford’s engineers never could have dreamed of.
In those early years, every person who purchased a Model T was guaranteed one thing: an exhilarating ride on bumpy roads. Things are not all that different in these first years of cryptocurrency. There are highs and lows associated with the industry, but incredible opportunities are visible not only here an...