Anarchists, idealists and capitalists struggle for bitcoin's soul

Anarchists, idealists and capitalists struggle for bitcoin's soul

Anarcho-libertarians were thin on the ground at the Bitcoin London event yesterday, as the suits took over Level 39 in Canary Wharf to talk about building businesses, attracting venture capital investment and dealing with financial regulations.

Many of bitcoin's early adopters were attracted to the virtual currency by its outsider status, separate from the conventional banking system. However, at yesterday's event it was clear that the corporate, and regulatory, world is now sniffing around and looking to co-opt the new boy.

Shakil Khan, angel investor and founder of Coindesk told Finextra that there are three types of bitcoin enthusiasts: the anarchist, the idealist and the capitalist.

Khan says that the environment is still too immature for big venture capital but that once bitcoin businesses evolve past their nascent stage, most companies will be a combination of 'idealists' and 'capitalists' and that they will also need the "adult supervision" of seasoned business players to hit the big time.

Stefan Thomas, senior developer at Ripple, a peer-to-peer payments network that supports bitcoin, told Finextra that he sees not just big business getting in on the act but the banking industry, too.

Thomas says that banks, as reliable, trusted institution, having an important role to play in the bitcoin economy, especially in opening it up to less technical users. Meanwhile, Thomas also suggests that bitcoin can help improve the banking system by making it more transparent.

Meanwhile, the event also saw demonstrations of a Bitcoin ATM. The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones tries out the machine here:

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