The potential for a digital currency is starting to capture our imagination as we begin to seriously debate the pro's and cons of block chain technology. Just over a year ago Microsoft jumped on the bandwagon early and proudly announced they would be accepting Bitcoin payments in the Microsoft store.
Facing constant accusations of being stuck in the past, this seemed to be an incredibly forward thinking move by the tech giant. Until Softpedia discovered what appeared to be a change of heart on the official Microsoft website. The headline "Microsoft Store doesn't accept Bitcoin" predictably went viral online as tech sites dissected the premature move.
It seemed a little odd that the decision to remove Bitcoin came at the moment when the concept of electronic money is on the verge of going mainstream. Although the average user still has a very limited understanding of this technology, it's important to remember that a record $1 billion has been invested in Bitcoin firms so far.
Microsoft are masters of the U-turn and quickly backtracked by announcing "We continue to support Bitcoin for adding money to your Microsoft account which can be used for purchasing content in the Windows and Xbox stores. We apologize for inaccurate information that was inadvertently posted to a Microsoft site, which is currently being corrected"
One of the major tech players walking away from digital currency would have been incredibly embarrassing at this key stage of our digital transformation. But it remains unclear as to how this level of awkwardness was self inflicted by Microsoft on their own website.
Recent news also suggested that Ethereum is on the verge of overtaking Bitcoin in the digital currency stakes. But, with forty of the world's biggest banks now testing block-chain bond trading, we are just beginning to understand the opportunities that could transform an entire industry.
When we combine this exciting potential with the famous quote by Bill Gates "we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will happen in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction." It brings a certain amount of irony to Microsoft's original post on their website.
There is no doubt that we are currently undergoing a digital transformation. Entire industries are being disrupted by technology with the likes of Uber and AirBnB creating a new digital landscape. Technology should be used to take the old way of doing things and make them more efficient for modern business.
The finance industry has already recognized the disruption on the horizon. Banks are actively working with technologists to determine the best way forward that will ultimately result in a dramatic rethink of an out-of-date system.
The ultimate aim is for the finance industry to catch-up and embrace the technology that will allow both users and organizations to be more efficient and productive. With an increasing investment in this area and the technology being on the verge of going mainstream. Maybe Microsoft listened to the wise words of Bill Gates before quietly pulling the plug after all.