Seattle entrepreneur Will O'Brien started learning about the Bitcoin digital currency technology in late 2012. He said it didn't take him long to realize that what was really at stake was the transformation of the financial services system.
"This was the beginning of the Internet all over again," said O'Brien, a former executive in charge of corporate business development at Big Fish Games who is now CEO of www.BitGo.com. "This was something magical, where companies could be built and an entrepreneur wanting to take a big risk could go after an opportunity here."
Those are strong words about a form of virtual cash that many people outside of the technology world still haven't heard of or can't understand. They're also what you would expect from a startup CEO invested in a new technology.
But some key 2013 events regarding Bitcoin may add value to O'Brien's statements:
* The infamous Silk Road marketplace, which allowed bitcoins for buying drugs and other illegal activities, was shut down by the FBI. The Bitcoin technology itself, however, didn't fade away.
* A U.S. Senate committee heard testimony about Bitcoin's risks - but also heard about the potential benefits for global commerce from no less an expert than then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
* Large and small companies started accepting bitcoins as payment alternatives for goods and services. "We're seeing tens of thousands of merchants accepting bitcoins today - from Wordpress to Overstock to Zynga," O'Brien said. "You can buy a grilled cheese sandwich at a food truck in Seattle. You can buy a ticket on Virgin Galactic."