For Bitcoin itself, the biggest risk is not regulation but competition. Like any currency its value is dependent on the number of users. Being the first to build a network can be an advantage. But networks can also be supplanted as users suddenly switch to an even better competitor. As markets like eBay and Airbnb grow, for example, their user fees start to become a necessary payment, a bit like a tax. If those charges could be paid in a new form of digital money, the demand for that cash would be much more stable. Bitcoin might end up like MySpace, the now moribund precursor to Facebook.
This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. Bitcoin is fascinating, but it also seems like a huge pain-in-the-ass that will have a hard time ever getting mainstream adoption. It’s a proof-of-concept. Next, someone needs to nail the concept.