Marc O’Brien, Crypterium
The way we pay for goods has evolved dramatically over time. Before they were rendered obsolete by gold and silver coins, cowrie shells were used as a currency in day-to-day trade. Coins, in their turn, were replaced by paper money, which eventually had to make way for plastic cards, followed by contactless payment solutions we enjoy today.
Cryptocurrencies can become the next mainstream payment solution within next decade, a recent study from Imperial College London argues. If that’s true and cryptocurrencies are to fulfill their intended use case becoming a globally accepted form of money, we should be asking when buying the weekly shop with them will be commonplace.
While today you likely can’t pop into your local coffee shop and buy a latte using the contents of your Bitcoin wallet, more and more sellers are starting to accept cryptocurrency. CoinMap lists as many as 12,937 merchants that have welcomed crypto as a payment method, as of July 2018.
Most of those are small outlets, but some big names have already joined the list of crypto-accepting companies, including Microsoft, Expedia, and Craigslist. You can use Bitcoin to buy gift cards via Gyft, and those with deeper digital pockets can even purchase a ticket to space through Virgin Galactic.
It does sound promising, but paving the road to the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies is no simple task. Since many businesses are still reluctant to accept cryptocurrency, a handful of startups are coming up with solutions to implement crypto into the existing payments infrastructure.
Driving the Change
Last month, former CEO of Visa UK Marc O’Brien joined Crypterium, a cryptocurrency startup that wants to make it easy to pay with cryptocurrencies in everyday situations via any NFC terminal, by scanning QR codes or conducting online payments. The app already allows its users to top up their mobile phones with crypto, and that’s just the first step.
“Our goal is to enable our customers to actually use their cryptocurrencies for everyday payments: to do groceries, commute, or pay utility bills,” Marc explains. “Making people confident they can use bitcoin, ether and other popular currencies across millions of payment terminals globally is a necessary step for crypto to become the ‘new money.’”
O’Brien is not alone in his belief that cryptocurrencies will go mainstream in the nearest future. Fintech startups TenX and Monaco promise to issue cryptocurrency cards similar to everyday debit cards with one difference: you will be able to deposit cryptocurrencies on them. A nice option for those not willing to accept much change at once, that is instant mobile payments, and ready to wait for 2 or 3 weeks for their card to be issued and delivered.
The crucial role of companies popularizing the daily use of crypto can be backed by real figures: the said Crypterium holds the record of 70K token holders and 400K registered users.
Those who witnessed the Interned starting out as a way to decentralize communications and evolving as the new ethos, upending how we interact, do business, and work, cannot deny the resemblance it bears to blockchain, the one that started out to decentralize value.
The way we communicate has changed and will keep changing: from words to handwritten letters, emails, and instant messaging. The same is with how we treat value; there is no looking back and trying to measure crypto assets with the same yardstick as traditional money.
Just like the Internet 30 years ago, imagine how blockchain can transform our lives. An interesting question that follows is: “What could crypto do for global commerce?” Hopefully, we’ll see within the next decade.
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