Bitcoin, the oldest and the most valuable cryptocurrency by some margin, is fighting for supremacy against a raft of plucky rivals.
Now, Brian Armstrong, the chief executive of the largest U.S. bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase and long time altcoin proponent, has warned it might not be bitcoin that pushes the cryptocurrency ecosystem “from [around] 50 million users to 5 billion.”
“I think it’s still very much up in the air which blockchain will help get crypto from [around] 50 million users to 5 billion,” Armstrong said this week via Twitter.
“The chain that manages to ship some of these scalability, privacy, decentralized identity, and developer tool solutions will have a big leg up.”
Armstong didn’t name any cryptocurrencies and didn’t rule out that it could be bitcoin that gains mainstream adoption—though Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has his eye on one.
“The good news is that there are a number of teams now racing toward this prize,” Armstrong said, adding that as a “builder,” he’s “rooting for them all.”
Alongside some significant advances for the likes of litecoin, Ripple’s XRP, and ethereum, bitcoin is expected to be upgraded in a so-called soft fork later this year, a development that’s been called “one of the most innovative additions” that bitcoin’s had.
The soft fork, which is a change to a cryptocurrency’s protocol that doesn’t require all nodes to be updated and is backward-compatible, is expected to improve bitcoin’s privacy and scalability.
Meanwhile, as well as bitcoin’s upcoming technical developments, a bitcoin-buying consumer app from bitcoin futures exchange Bakkt is due to launch in the first half of 2020.
Armstrong made parallels between bitcoin and the early days of the internet when Netscape, a subsidiary of AOL, developed the tools that allowed the internet to grow from a niche technology to billions of users around the world.
“At Netscape, they were working with early internet protocols,” Armstrong said, adding A16z co-founder Ben Horowitz had made the comparison at a recent event.
“Things weren’t very scalable (dial up modems), you had to be somewhat technical to figure out how to get online, and early websites were pretty basic (static sites, looked like toys). Sound familiar to crypto at all,” Armstrong asked.
Bitcoin has been battling against falling trading volumes and stalled adoption in recent months—but that’s not stopping some from betting big on the number one cryptocurrency.
Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey has said bitcoin is “likely” to be the internet’s “first native currency.”
Dorsey has vowed to help bitcoin development through his payments company, Square—which recently said it’s “only a matter of time until instant, low-fee bitcoin payments are as common as cash used to be.”