Payment methods have a high degree of inertia making change slow and challenging for new alternatives. So it is not surprising that crypto currencies based on public blockchains are not broadly used 13 years after Bitcoin launched. The future of the largest public blockchains is limited, however, because they cannot, as is now widely acknowledged, provide stable currencies or operate efficient payment systems and other transactional services at scale. Their ability to correct these problems is impeded by the fact that they serve several masters—decentralization of authority in particular—and are not as nimble at making hard pivots as traditional startups given their consensus-based governance. Established public blockchains may solve these problems but that will take time; new faster public blockchains are entering but must attract capital and labor, which takes time too. Meanwhile payments and financial services are not standing still. Real-time payment methods, mobile money platforms, non-crypto FinTechs, and private permissioned blockchains are developing innovative payment and financial services. In the end it is race, probably over a decade or more, to see who prevails in this competition. Could crypto fix itself in time to win this race? That is possible but far from sure. For those concerned about systemic risks, the public blockchains, and their applications, given the plausible pace of adoption, are less alarming than they may appear from the current hype and va...
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