This Economist article, Bitcoin’s future: Hidden flipside, talks about BitCoin as a platform, rather than a currency. Here’s a great quote:
Some want ownership of devices–a car, say–to be represented by a Bitcoin, or a tiny fraction of it. The car would work only when turned on with a key that includes the Bitcoin token. This would make managing ownership of and access to physical assets much easier: the token could be sold or rented out temporarily, enabling flexible peer-to-peer car-rental schemes. Such “smart property” would turn the blockchain into a global registry of ownership in physical assets.
All that may sound like science fiction, but a growing number of startups are working on bringing such applications to market. Coloured Coins and Mastercoin will soon release software that enables trade in other financial assets, including stocks and bonds. The most ambitious project is Ethereum: it will launch a new blockchain, similar but unrelated to Bitcoin, with a programming language to encode financial instruments and other contracts.
Again, the focus is on use of the blockchain technology, either by large/reputable entities, or for non-Bitcoin purposes. The most interesting is Ethereum, which sounds like a manifestation of Lanier’s “formal financial expression” scheme (encoding financial instruments and contracts in code rather than words).