When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency first implemented a working version of the Internet in the 1960s it seemed like a fringe experiment not dissimilar to Bitcoin today. It wasn’t until a protocol called TCP/IP emerged in the 1970s and was commercialized that the Internet was positioned to take off. In short, this protocol allowed every website and service built on it to have its own “address” and a way to communicate information. This averted chaos, allowing users to find what they were looking for, allowing websites to work together and enabling networks to do the hard lifting of directing traffic in an orderly and predictable way. Without TCP/IP, the Internet as we know it would not exist.
Bitcoin today is in roughly the same development phase that TCP/IP was back then. Instead of IP addresses and websites, Bitcoin has unique strings that represent money and a mechanism to send these strings securely and safely wherever you want. It is a protocol that is allowing money to flow around the world much like TCP/IP allows information to flow -- in an orderly, predictable way.
This is not a theory; it happens every day. The Bitcoin economy, while still in its infancy, is about $2 billion (meaning, the value of all Bitcoins) and rising. New services appear daily -- exchanges, digital wallets, payment processors, along with companies that accept Bitcoin alongside dollars, euros and yen for traditional services. In addition, a small and growing group of technologists are getting behind the currency, allocating time and capital to building a robust ecosystem.