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Without these innovators and early adopters, we wouldn’t be eyeing the $20,000 bitcoin market we are today, and the disruptive blockchain technology the world is fascinated in may have never gained the prominence it deserves. For those who know their cryptocurrency history, Satoshi Nakamoto, and those on the closed cryptographic mailing list, were the ‘innovators’.
In the early days of 2009, cryptographic computer scientists were the primary miners and users of bitcoin, and arguably at the time they had an interest purely in the academic innovation that this new technology offered and its potential for economic disruption. As adoption grew, more and more people started to look at the new currency, trading bitcoins price action, and vocally supporting the potential of the disruptive nature of the technology. When you group these very early academics, miners, traders and advocates together, you get the innovators of bitcoin and cryptocurrency – the first on the curve.
The term ‘early adopter’ applies to the group of people who follow the innovators. The term was a key component in the early Apple computers marketing strategy, pushing customers to ‘Think Different’ and challenge the status quo, and to be the first to take up a new technology. In the blockchain space an early adopter is pretty much anyone who knew about bitcoin in 2011. George McDonaugh, CEO of a blockchain token investment company Kryptonite1, was one of these early adopters who really saw the potential of a decentralised, frictionless, cross boarder currency.
Since 2011 a lot has changed. We have new blockchains and coins, the ethereum network is creating a ‘global blockchain world computer’, and even regulated exchanges such as the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) offer derived futures which settle on the price of bitcoin. The question now should be whether or not we’re still in the early adopters phase. The media attention would suggest we are, but when you take into account there are still only about 20 million bitcoin wallets, and less than 15 million ether wallets, you can argue there is still a long way to go.