Do you recall the first time you went to an ATM? I do. It just didn’t seem right. I wanted to look someone in the eyes when I handed over a check or had my account debited. That machine was scary. And then ATM machine muggings started being reported on the nightly news. Bad people hung out around ATMs!
Imagine if we tossed all the ATM’s in the proverbial garbage heap? If we did, you’d still be spending your lunch breaks “going to the bank” and the lines would be so long that not even the fresh baked cookies they used to serve in the bank lobby would satisfy you. (Why don’t banks serve fresh baked cookies anymore? That’s a topic for another post!)
Innovation is scary, even when it makes our lives better.
Imagine being on your horse when the first noisy smelly car roared past. Imagine feeling like the little flame inside a light bulb was going to burn your house down. Imagine walking by what you thought was a radio and seeing the person speaking right there on the box. Innovation is scary. I get it. It’s freaked me out to.
So why am I an early adopter of Bitcoin? Why doesn’t it freak me out like the ATM?
1) It’s controlled by the crowd
I don’t trust anyone, but I do trust everyone. The Bitcoin network is controlled by a globally distributed group of miners, all of whom hold bitcoin and are aligned with its success as a global means of exchange. Everything they do is transparent – out there for all to see on a general ledger known as the block chain – and every one of them has an interest in the continued trust in and well functioning of – the Bitcoin network. I’d put my faith in this group over the Federal Reserve Bank any day.
2) Dollar bills are covered in germs
Practically, paper money just doesn’t fit with our lives any longer. Save the trees and put away that tiny bottle of Purell sanitizer you carry around with you everywhere. Bitcoin works with our digitally connected lives. And it’ll probably protect me from the flu this winter as well.
3) More people enjoyed the convenience of ATMs than got mugged at them
The media loves to report bad news. You may have heard of the bankruptcy of the bitcoin exchange known as Mt. Gox? Or the marketplace for illicit drugs known as Silk Road? That’s because the media hammered on those stories for weeks much like they did the muggings during the early days of the ATM. Imagine this headline: “Millions of people use ATM: Money comes out and people walk away without incident.” That doesn’t sell newspapers… ahem excuse me… get clicks. But here is a true headline that doesn’t get reported: “More value is transacted through the Bitcoin network each day than through Western Union.” That may not get you to click on my blog post, but its true.
4) Spending money for the convenience of spending money is just dumb
You don’t think about it, but every time you use your credit card you are paying an additional 3 percent. The merchants have baked that into their prices to maintain their margins. The fees that the credit card companies charge come out of your pocket. You are spending money to spend money. I just don’t see the logic in that. It’s as archaic as spending your lunch hour in line at the bank.
5) I like telling my son about the next big thing
I’ve got two college age boys who – lets face it – are always way ahead of me when it comes to innovation. I don’t think I’m alone amongst parents out there, but this one time I’ve beat them to it! They’ve now adopted it – why? “because its better mom” – but I get bragging rights at the dinner table because I found it first.
So why is this all relevant to a wealth management marketing guru blog post? David Berger, Founder and CEO of the Digital Currency Council – a professional association that is supporting wealth managers who want to learn about and build their businesses in the digital currency economy, puts it this way: “You don’t want to be caught flat-footed when your clients come to you and ask about the proper place for bitcoin in their portfolio. You want to be teaching them about the next big asset class.”
As I’ve advised my clients many times, if you teach your clients and prospects something new, they’ll respect you and choose to work with you. Teaching is the most effective sales technique and great sales people make more money. So maybe it’s more than just bragging rights with my sons at the dinner table….