Startups like Coinbase have been instrumental in taking Bitcoin from a poorly understood cryptocurrency in use by an insular community of internet anarchists, darkweb users and tech geeks, to an alternative currency that is beginning to creep into every day use in the consumer world.
Since there's nothing really comparable to them, the future of Bitcoin and other digital payment networks is almost completely up in the air. But platforms like Coinbase -which now works with over 1,800,000 users and 37,000 distinct merchants – are aiming to simplify Bitcoin for businesses and their customers, and to be the intermediary between the technology and the real world of retail.
As CEO and founder Brian Armstrong explains, more and more retailers, consumers and developers are being sold on the draw of a completely independent payment network.
Armstrong believes the success of global digital marketplaces like AirBnB have set the precedent for what Bitcoin could achieve commercially.
Coinbase is also trying to realise some of the revolutionary implications that Bitcoin has around security.
When we asked Armstrong if he could allay concerns that increased adoption will devalue Bitcoin, he responded that the Bitcoin economy is beginning to stabalise as it gains traction in worldwide markets.
Eventually, he sees Bitcoin moving from being a marginal commodity to a 'fifth utility' for the internet age.