A Bit of what you fancy

in technology; marketing
by Louise Gardiner
Working in global marketing we are used to working across in multiple currencies, but what is the impact of a currency like Bitcoin?
 
Bitcoins have become the currency of the internet; a decentralised digital money.  Bitcoins are open-source and not ‘owed’ or controlled by anyone so everyone can take part – if they want to.  
 
So will Bitcoins change finance the same way the web changed publishing?
 
A minority of privacy advocates prefer Bitcoins because they have low transaction costs and are currently free from regulation or traceability.  However, many in the mainstream feel they are slightly tainted by their use for what may be considered ‘unsavoury’ purchases; we won’t go into details but the type of thing your mother would not have approved of.  
 
Currently we’re not seeing customer-led demand for the peer-to-peer electronic payment system, this may be because we already have widely accepted and recognised currencies?  So if demand is driven it will be because Bitcoin is a faster and cheaper way to process transactions, in which case the deciding factor may be whether credit card companies and mobile service providers can fully resolve the problem of micro-payments.  
 
There is a place for marketers and global brands to consider alternatives to traditional ‘sales’ which are not driven by conventional cash payments.  Think Nike’s Pay with Sweat not Money campaign where consumers could bid for new Nike sneakers with miles (kilometres actually) that they had run and recorded on their Nike+ app.  
 
Ultimately we do not believe Bitcoins will become main stream, and their value to society and commerce are limited, but the internet is a surprising place and new ideas do catch on.  Our job as marketers is to be aware of changes in the digital world and understand when and how we can use them to the benefit of our clients and their consumers.