What Bitcoin can learn from early FM radio adoption

When you turn on your radio today (if you even use a radio anymore) you will likely tune in to an FM radio station to listen to music. AM radio being reserved mainly for talk shows or other boring things that nobody really listens to. But this wasn’t always the case. AM used to be the dominant wave band for most of the 20th century.

FM/AM 2 band radio.

Although FM radio was created in the 1930s, it had a very slow start in getting widespread adoption. AM radio was what you tuned into if you wanted to listen to a radio station which meant that to listen to FM you would need to buy a radio with FM included and you needed FM stations to listen to. But why would radio companies build FM into their radios if there were no FM radio stations? Why would people create FM radio stations if there were no radios that could listen?

This is the same chicken and egg scenario that Bitcoin has faced since its inception. Why would you accept bitcoins at your store if nobody is spending them? Why would you spend bitcoins if no stores are accepting it?

Early FM radio was just run by the AM radio stations simulcasting their programs on the FM channel. There was no real reason to switch to FM to listen to the same thing that you could listen to on AM so why go through the trouble of finding a radio that included it?

In the 1960s a few independent stations started broadcasting alternative radio programs with a focus on the younger generation. FM stereo was just starting to come into play and was being included in automobiles. Rock and Roll music sounded better on the FM channel and at the time the thing to do was drive around in your car playing your Rock and Roll music if you were young. It was edgy, showed that you weren’t the same as the boring older generation and were doing something new. The radio stations catered to this rebellious independence and FM started to catch on.

By the late 70s FM became the dominant wave band leaving AM as the “alternative band” that FM once was.

Current Bitcoin is essentially being “simulcast” like FM in the early days. Sure companies might adopt it as a payment method, but they accept it along side other payment methods. There is not a whole lot of incentive to spend your bitcoins because you can still use your old payment methods that you are used to.

What needs to happen with bitcoin is to take something like the advancement of the Lightning Network which no other payment system can provide and start using it for some niche services where only bitcoin is accepted as payment rather than having it “simulcast”. This would be a huge leap for any company but if it is a service that caters to crypto oriented people it can grow like the independent FM stations of the 60s.

This could be something the marijuana industry in the US takes on in those states that have legalized its use. Considering so many banks shut down accounts of these stores, it makes sense that they should accept crypto as their only method of payment. Some cutting edge, innovative companies need to take the risk and lead the path.

Or you can do like Blue Frontiers is doing in a very niche field like seasteading, which caters well to the crypto world, and only accept crypto for payments. Blue Frontiers is creating a new currency called varyon which is the only currency they will use for purchase or rental of homes on their seasteads, they’ll only accept that for property registration, buying platforms, etc. They’re not saying “we’ll take crypto and USD or EUR”, they’re creating a niche product that nobody else has (literally manufacturing oceanfront property) and only accepting crypto. They have stated that although they will only accept varyon as a company, any currency is welcome for the private transactions of businesses on the seastead. But it is likely that varyon will be the default currency with many other options that make it seamless to the user. While leaving fiat currencies as the “alternative currency”.

Blue Frontiers Floating Island concept

Hopefully we start to see more niche companies offering only crypto as payment which will mean that more people will need to buy bitcoins to spend, not just to buy and hodl. If this happens, then eventually crypto payments will overcome fiat payments until eventually the only reason to have fiat will be for boring things like government payments and taxes while the rest of the economy runs on bitcoin.

Written by Elwar: