What is the future of Bitcoin?

Brandon Paykamian • Feb 4, 2018 at 5:13 PM

Local entrepreneur and Symply Health CEO John Cannon thinks Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have the potential to radically change commerce, monetary policy and the way we see money. 

Innovation Lab at East Tennessee State University will host Cannon’s forum, “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies: Myths vs. Reality,” on Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. Cannon plans to discuss his research into alternative currencies and teach people who are new to cryptocurrencies more about how they work and what makes them different from traditional currencies.

“I got into Bitcoin around six months ago and found the lack of information that was easy to understand and accurate really troubling,” he said. “So I pursued a project to research this myself and the presentation is to share that information.

“I’m a big believer in the future of cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin. In general, I don’t think the media is doing a great job in explaining what it is, largely because it’s still so bloody new.”

Even after Bitcoin tumbled Friday, bringing the total market value of cryptocurrencies down to around $400 billion — half the high it reached in January — Cannon is still optimistic about the future of this new technology. 

“When people ask me about the price fluctuations, it doesn’t bother me at all, because I’m looking at it as a long-term thing. When the price goes down, that just means more people will be able to buy into it,” he said. 

Cannon said it once took him weeks to send money to Istanbul for a business transaction. The money traveled from a bank in Johnson City, to a bank in New York, then a bank in Switzerland and finally to Istanbul. But when the money made it to Istanbul, he said it was posted in the form of Swiss francs. “Somebody screwed up somewhere,” he said. 

“You don’t have any of those issues with Bitcoin. If I want to send Bitcoin to someone in Turkey, it’ll be a matter of minutes,” he said. 

In addition to investors and “techy” types who are interested in new currencies and technology, Cannon said the concept of cryptocurrencies gained a lot of initial traction years ago within the libertarian movement, which opposes the world’s central banking systems and wanted monetary policy to be “out from under the thumb of government.”

To Cannon, it isn’t just about streamlining transactions — it’s also about fundamentally changing the way money works. 

“There was clearly a strong libertarian influence in the early days, but I would say anyone who cares about the value of their currency is drawn to it,” he said. “Bitcoin is not owned by anyone, it is not controlled by anyone, there is no central bank, there is no monetary policy.

“I think it’ll fundamentally change things when governments and banks are no longer in control of monetary policy.”

Cannon’s forum is free and open to the public. Space is limited, so call 423-439-8500 or 423-930-6541 to register. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.

For more information about the ETSU Innovation Lab, visit www.etsu.edu/ilab

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