What Will E-Commerce and Bitcoin Be Like in 2022?
There's an old saying quoted at the beginning of each entry in Michael Apted's critically acclaimed "Up" documentary series, which checks in on the lives of 14 individuals every seven years: "Show me the child until the age of seven and I will show you the man." It just happens that both e-commerce and Bitcoin are celebrating similar divisible-by-seven anniversary milestones this year, giving us reason to reflect on their beginnings and anticipate where they'll be seven years from now.
How it All Began
Twenty-one years ago, 1994 saw the birth of e-commerce, with the first transaction of the new payment genre provided by the company NetMarket. (The purchase, if you're curious, was a Sting CD, because nothing screams 1994 like Sting and compact disc.) Soon after came the first online pizza order, made possible by Pizza Hut, establishing the precedent that great online technologies should be launched with the purchase of pizza. With new companies such as CyberSource making secure online payment processing a possibility, e-commerce companies took off. Amazon.com was founded in 1994 as well, with Dell, Yahoo, eBay and other now famous names launching soon thereafter.
Today, Bitcoin is a precocious seven-year-old. Invented in 2008, the details for the design of the original Bitcoin protocol were published online that same year in a paper by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto (a likely pseudonym). What's believed to be Bitcoin's first e-commerce transaction happened in 2010, when Florida programmer Laszlo Hanyecz exchanged 10,000 bitcoin to someone who bought him two large Papa John's pizzas. Those bitcoins, worth about $30 at the time, would be worth millions today.
The new breed of secure payment processing offered by Bitcoin is being adopted by the current generation of online merchants. Users no longer have to barter for pizza, but can instead shop at major retailers like Overstock.com, Dell and Microsoft; buy airline tickets; or even get food at many restaurants and websites (such as PizzaForCoins.com, which, you guessed it, let's you use Bitcoin to buy pizza).