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What’s the case for optimism about bitcoin?

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Bitcoin doesn’t have very much to offer ordinary users right now. But many technologists believe that Bitcoin could be the foundation for innovative financial software and services in the future.

That’s because Bitcoin is the world’s first truly open financial network. MasterCard and PayPal place limits on who can build applications using their platforms and what those applications can do. The Bitcoin network has no such limitations. This openness could lead to a fast pace of innovation in the coming years.

The internet provides a good point of comparison. In the 1980s, the internet was complicated and clunky, with limited functionality. But the internet was an open platform. And, over time, innovators used that platform to build new products with broader and broader consumer appeal.

Something similar could happen with Bitcoin. Venture capitalists are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Bitcoin-based startups. Bitcoin boosters believe that some of these firms will become the Google and Facebook of the financial sector and revolutionize how financial transactions work.