By Jim Duffy
There you have it, clear as day. PayPal’s announcement a few weeks ago that it’s bringing cryptocurrency checkout services to millions of merchants raised a ton of eyebrows amid the blue crypto sky.
Of course many of you are enthused and excited about PayPal’s move to offer crypto services to its customers and the whole spectrum of outlets it services. It’s certainly a feel good story for all of us who believe that crypto and blockchain are the future of payments, currency and money.
But, if we look deeper, there is a far more significant, hidden in plain sight narrative emerging. Put simply, mainstream media is now covering crypto stories almost every day. This indeed is the headline, this is the scoop.
Sky News is a big deal in the UK. Its audience loves the fresh and punchy way it handles news and reports on both domestic and international events. Personally, I’d take Sky News anyday over the rather woke, starchy old fashioned and dated BBC News.
So, when Sky reports on this cryptocurrency breaking news, the UK is made firmly aware that something big is happening. In short, it sits up and listens. However, this is just the start of a new wave in UK media reporting on cryptocurrency themed stories – both positive and negative.
Sky has filed several reports on Bitcoin and crypto, most notably Elon Musk and Tesla’s move to accept Bitcoin from consumers seeking to buy one of their shiny new motors. There is no denying that Mr Musk knows how to grab a headline and make a splash.
But where Sky boldly goes, many others follow. However, all of this is taking time as the reputation of Bitcoin is still not adequately recognised as either currency, money or a bone fide savings vehicle. That said, when PayPal announces a big move like this, it adds credibility to the whole crypto industry.
In Scotland, The Scotsman, where I write also, has embraced a weekly crypto column. A brave move as it is based in Edinburgh which is the heart of Scottish banking and home to many naysayers and Bitcoin “haters”.
The banks are still not yet sure about crypto in the UK in general. I’d say the jury is out, but I still believe that by the end of 2021, a UK bank will offer some form of crypto services to its customers with the general media potentially playing a part in this.
Both The Telegraph and Guardian pen wishy-washy pieces on cryptocurrency, which to me, show a lack of understanding of the potential of this technology and a fear of “going down the rabbit hole” to find out more. The Guardian, a left leaning publication, recently reported on the energy costs of Bitcoin with the headline:
Electricity needed to mine Bitcoin is more than used by “entire countries”
So while there is merit in exploring this as a story, the wider context is more important. What this in effect means is that journalists or editors are playing catchup and printing scare stories that worry readers as opposed to providing a balanced overview of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general. There is much to be done, but I am hopeful that the more positive news agenda in the USA will, in time, infect and enthuse UK journalists to find out more.
This new monetary and financial technology called cryptocurrency reminds me of the start of the Ford Motor Company. At the time, folks used horses as the means of driving stagecoaches and transport. So, when Henry Ford masterminded and produced the automobile, he was up against how people thought. Ford is quoted,
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
This is exactly where we are in the UK media when it comes to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. However, with the likes of Sky News now with its radar up for crypto, the UK might not need to build more horse tables or upgrade their saddles.