I heard about Stellar recently, and I think it might become kind of a thing. The platform is similar to bitcoin, but it seems like it's designed to particularly serve a lot of the core functions that people are getting excited about, particularly:
- Transacting between two arbitrary currencies (dollars, yen, euro, bitcoin) seamlessly. Stellar accepts currency from gateways and transmutes it into whatever currency might be desired.
- Kicking untrusted gateways off the network. Gateways are essentially lending each other money, so there's a built in "creditworthiness" mechanism that can handle a financial system where trustworthiness is impermanent.
- Governance. Stellar seems to have put the foundation that governs its deployment and use together ahead of mass adoption. This could be seen as a bad thing (or just a way to cash in), but I think it leads to a better formed product. Bitcoin got popularity first, and is now building respectability. I feel like taking the opposite approach and designing specific rebuttals in the protocol to commonly leveled criticisms of bitcoin is a great way to get adoption from the conservative, image-conscious financial community.
I don't really have the ability to evaluate the technical merit of this platform, but I can definitely evaluate the way it might play among traditionally conservative financial firms. Many of these are aware that financial infrastructure can be improved, but for whatever reason are wary of bitcoin.
This seems like someone built a custom version of bitcoin for the powerful institutions that exhibit that conservatism, and I feel like it might work. Not a prediction, but this is an exciting idea.