Bitcoin is usually seen as a revolutionary new currency for the digital age by people who understand it. This is something that can cut out the inefficiencies and waste that is usually associated with fiat currencies and the traditional banking system. That’s not a bad thing, but I’ve written articles like “Cryptocurrencies and the Interplanetary Economy” and called for owners of cryptocurrency-based businesses to pay for the cheap sponsorships of Mars One because I’m convinced that cryptocurrencies can be more than that if users can form the right kind of partnerships. If Bitcoin users are unwilling to do what it takes to become major players in the future of the solar system, you can be sure that Bitcoin will be completely buried by entities who see where the futures of both space travel and economic systems are headed.
Marscoin is already doing this. I watched Marscoin Foundation member Lennart Lopin present checks representing donations to both Mars One and the Mars Society during the recent Mars Society convention in Houston. Mister Lopin believes that he can find a way to take an efficient version of the Marscoin blockchain to Mars and install it on the server that the Mars One settlement is going to have. Perhaps we could even take it to Mars on a good thumb drive. This could have the effect of not just making Mars One the first permanent settlement on Mars, but also making it the economic center of the entire planet in a future that includes an active Martian economy based around interplanetary trade and Martian spaceports.
Lennart Lopin at the Cryptocurrency Convention
There will be very few actual banks simply because bankers will not have been among the first few generations of Martians and that means the environment will be right for cryptocurrencies to gain a foothold. This is going to be a competition to see which cryptocurrencies will best suit Martian needs that will very much match the “survival of the fittest” that dominates Earth’s natural ecosystems in their natural state. The winner won’t be the one that is strongest right this minute. The winner will be the one that Martians actually use and Lennart’s idea of taking the blockchain with us will give Marscoin an automatic edge.
Some aerospace companies and thought leaders already see the benefits of cryptocurrencies. Virgin Galactic already accepts Bitcoin payments for trips into space. Mars One accepts Bitcoin donations. Lennart Lopin was just telling me that Mars Society founder and president Robert Zubrin was quite enthusiastic about cryptocurrencies. This is a prime opportunity for an alliance between cryptocurrency users and supporters of space exploration.
Supporters of space travel will have to learn how to see Bitcoin as more than just a method of payment to be dumped on the exchanges. Rather, cryptocurrencies are in a good position to become the official medium of exchange for interplanetary trade. This is the type of currency that was foreshadowed by Star Trek in the form of “credits” that are accepted by all planets in the fictional Federation without being associated by any single planetary government. I’m not saying we should be like most of the other Bitcoin users who buy cryptocurrencies to store on a computer we never use. Instead, we should encourage the companies that already accept cryptocurrencies by buying and selling using Bitcoin even if it’s just holding a garage sale and having a tablet handy for people who want to pay in their favorite altcoin. Then, when it’s time to pack up and move to Mars, it shouldn’t be difficult to slip the USB flash drive containing the blockchain for Marscoin into our pocket on the way out the door. It’s not unusual for me to carry a couple of gigabytes around in my pocket anyway, so I could be the one to do this.
Sometimes it seems to me like the people on the Bitcointalk forum are all living in their own little bubble, but Bitcoin proponents could have a lot to gain from reaching out to the aerospace world. Like I mentioned, the Marscoin Foundation is already doing this by branding Marscoin as the semi-official currency of Mars and showing up at the Mars Society Convention in Houston to give a talk and present donations to the Mars Society and Mars One. These weren’t just token donations, either. Each donation was 500,000 MARS, which I’m told was valued at about $10,000 at the time. Lennart Lopin understands the value of reaching out to people who could help determine the future of space economies. Marscoin is already ahead of the game and this could turn into one of the few arenas in which Bitcoin is playing catch-up if Bitcoin-based businesses do not act fast and start getting out of the comfort zone represented by Bitcointalk and Anonymous Ads.
We talk to each other about how Bitcoin could become mainstream, but we need allies to make it happen. This could mean doing sponsorships and giving presentations to our target audience the way the Marscoin Foundation is already doing. I support Marscoin as a planetary currency that could actually work, but other cryptocurrencies and the businesses that accept them can be included in the process of both spreading humanity throughout the solar system and taking currencies that are easy to use along for the ride. That means forming alliances between cryptocurrencies and the aerospace industry while leaders in both fields are still in the process of developing the technologies needed to take full advantage of this kind of partnership.