Who’s Who in Bitcoin: Web Payments Wunderkind Manu Sporny
(IEEE Spectrum) In the past year, Bitcoin has flummoxed its critics and exhilarated its followers. Since January, the exchange rate per Bitcoin has skyrocketed, venture capitalists have been spotted skulking through the halls of Bitcoin conferences, and each month there has been an increase in the number of businesses that have added Bitcoin as a payment option.
Manu Sporny, chairman of the Web Payments Community Group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), spoke at a Bitcoin conference in New York City in late July to put this tiny economy into perspective and to offer some advice. As of August, he said, there would be an estimated 1.6 million active Bitcoin addresses — diddly-squat when you consider the 2.75 billion people plugged into the Internet globally. The lesson? Push to get Bitcoin integrated into Web browsers.
Sporny is seeking cooperation from the Bitcoin community in developing the next generation of Web standards. His company, Digital Bazaar, has released an open-payments standard for Web browsers called PaySwarm, which is also under consideration at the W3C. IEEE Spectrum contributor Morgen Peck caught up with him after his talk to find out what the Web would look like if Bitcoin were integrated into browsers, and what it would take to make this happen.