Less than 1% of online buyers have used Bitcoin, according to new Forrester/Bizrate Insights data based on a survey of 7,000 online buyers. Yet, the crypto-currency enjoys very high awareness for a new technology: 34% have heard of Bitcoin, and 25% are curious enough to plan to give it a try. But while it’s easy to get caught up in the Bitcoin debate of “next great thing or fad that will die on the vine,” is this really the question that matters? According to Forrester analysts Denee Carrington and Sucharita Mulpuru in new research, it’s frankly far less important whether or not Bitcoin achieves mainstream adoption, and much more important to consider what this digital currency represents for the future of global payments and commerce.

“Bitcoin as a brand may never reach mainstream consumer adoption,” write Carrington and Mulpuru. “However, incumbents in the global payments ecosystem should consider the emergence of Bitcoin and crypto-currencies more broadly as an early warning siren of more innovation to come — that will completely transform today’s payments systems.” This innovation could be in the form of a new digital disruptor or a key tech player creating a solution to transfer funds inexpensively, quickly, securely, and conveniently. Amazon or Facebook P2P payments, anyone?

To learn more about this research, visit the eBusiness & Channel Strategy blog.