I'm bullish on cryptocurrency and its potential, generally. I don't believe that it will fail. However, I also know that it has its flaws (if not in the algorithms and protocols themselves, then in adoption and environment). I also know that, in the matter of technological progress, there are cycles of change and improvement, wherein the second and first versions are often discarded for better ones. As Fred Brookes Jnr. wrote in The Mythical Man Month, "Plan to throw one away; you will anyway."
Disclaimer: As with the Bible, I have not read all of it, although I plan to.
That's why I think Bitcoin (BTC) isn't really innovating much anymore, if at all. It is the proof of concept/working demo, IMO. Ethereum (ETH) built on that, but it had its problems (such as high gas fees and being based on proof of work). Maybe it will improve and move forward successfully. Let's see what the Shanghai update brings before taking a stance on that one, though. Still, as much as it would prove highly disruptive in the short term for ETH to tank, I'm not against it sliding into disuse and obscurity in the long term. (This shouldn't come as a surprise to people who've read my prior posts on ETH).
Let's explore this idea, this "what if" question, shall we (even if it proves to be unsubstantiated or flat out wrong)?
"Given a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero."
— Jack/Narrator (Chuck Palahniuk); Fight Club
If it does fail, for some reason, if everything (including the top ten on CMC/CoinGecko) drops to absolute zero (instead of a handful of a few hundred projects that failed to launch), the majority of us will end up looking like a right bunch of Charlies. The billionaire investors, with their bags of old money, will probably be OK. They tend to find a way to bail out, somehow.
The Major Versions of Money
The way I see it, fiat is Money version 1.0. The technology is thousands of years old and clearly has its flaws. Plus, people have abused and adapted it in ways I'm sure the originator(s) never intended. At any rate, it's time for it to go and it's on its way out, as much as the administrators and users who're used to it protest and fight to keep the legacy system. (Some hospitals still use Windows XP, for shit's sake! As much as I enjoy retro computing and have a fondness for certain versions of Windows up to 7, a hospital is not the right place for that.)
To extend the analogy, Cryptocurrency is Money 2.0. (It's not actually money, for various reasons, but let's not poke holes here.) It's a new system, still in its infancy, requiring extensive user testing and bug fixing by early adopters. It's the prototype/beta version of what's to come. There's still a lot of room for new features and scope creep. As a second system, it wasn't quite right as initially implemented and we're seeing those problems (some of them carried over from its predecessor) manifest. People are losing faith in it and feeling the need to roll back to version 1.0. Maybe it'll be fixed in time; maybe it won't. Only time will tell, but it's too early to call.
These are still the frontier/Wild West days for lone rangers, with no shortage of bandits and desperadoes intent on raiding the wagons, but they are unlikely to carry on like this forever. (The West was only wild for about fifteen years, despite the impression Hollywood gives.) At any rate, it's better than what we had, in many ways. I think we (degenerates and HODLers alike) can all agree on that much, even if we have to keep our guns close to hand and have to be prepared to face digital highwaymen.
As so often happens with big systems and replacements of them, people come to realise that while they've learnt from their mistakes, they made a few new ones building version 2.0 and making major updates to it. They take that experience and suggestions on how they could do it better, cleaner and more efficiently, to release an improved version: 3.0, 4.0 and so on.
Knowing what I do about technology, I doubt cryptocurrency is going to be the last and ultimate solution to the particular problems it aims to solve, if it even manages to do so (and I'm not saying it won't). What comes after, I sure as hell don't know (and I likely won't live long enough to find out). What I do know is I'm sure glad we've got it. I'm very keen to see where it takes us, particularly if I can leverage my development knowledge and skills to make a contribution in some way.
Maybe cryptocurrency will be to finance what Plan 9 was/is to operating systems: A stepping stone in the path from MULTICS to UNIX to GNU/Linux. (Yes, some people still use it, or a variant thereof known as 9front. It's a somewhat niche community, more so than Apple/BSD and GNU/Linux users. MULTICS, though, is very much consigned to history, having fallen into disuse somewhere around 2015. I expect the same will be true of fiat and crypto when their successors come along: Many will still use crypto, but others will migrate to the new tech, just as we're seeing with crypto now. Please don't quote me on that, though.)