- It's getting harder to imagine a future without cryptocurrencies.
- Here are some experts' visions for what the digital coins will look like decades from now.
We may not know what stocks in the S&P 500 will do next month, or in two years, but over the decades, we have a pretty good hunch that they'll go up. Most of us also know what a stock is, and that definition hasn't changed in centuries.
None of that is true, of course, with cryptocurrencies. Some predict the coins will forever change how we understand and interact with money and others warn of a dangerous bubble.
But whatever a person forecasts for cryptocurrencies, it's getting harder to imagine a future without them.
CNBC asked experts from a variety of fields to describe their vision for the currencies 50 years from now. Their answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.
• Ivory Johnson, certified financial planner and founder of Delancey Wealth Management
"Cryptocurrencies will disrupt traditional finance because one of their most attractive utilities is the ability to efficiently transfer payment across borders with little to no cost, delay or foreign currency fluctuations. With respect to bitcoin, 50 years is a long time and bitcoin could either become the world reserve currency or the next AOL that made a lot of people wealthy until it was unseated by better technology."
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• Frederick Kaufman, author of "The Money Plot: A History of Currency's Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate"
"Way before 2071, the dollar will have more in common with a crypto than with silver or gold, so there is no need to doubt the longevity of encrypted algorithms as stores of value and media of exchange. All money is a form of encryption. It's been that way from the start, and as our lives converge ever more closely with the digital universe, the drive to invest in tokens will only accelerate. Ironically, that impulse will connect us to primitive instincts, and do its part to keep us human."
• Dan Egan, vice president of behavioral finance and investing at Betterment
"Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have proven themselves useful for money movement and speculation, and they're unlikely to go away. But where and how we'll generate the energy to meet the demand of a growing crypto market is worth considering, as well as whether state-actors who view it as a competitor to fiat power will make it even more of a black-market commodity."
• Dragan Boscovic, founder and director of the Blockchain Research Lab at Arizona State University
"Central bank authorities are busy developing regulations on cryptocurrency. They recognize that digital currencies are native to the digital economy and, as such, are on their way to becoming mainstream in the next 10 years."
• Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America
"Sorry. I decided a while back that I'm too old for this issue."