As cryptocurrencies gain mainstream traction, finance brands are facilitating their everyday use while educating consumers about how these digital entities could one day replace cash.
Despite the confusion, there are signs that consumers are starting to perceive cryptocurrencies as equivalent to fiat money. A Google survey commissioned by British software company Sage found that almost a third (31%) of participants would be happy to receive some of their salary in cryptocurrency form.
Tapping into this mindset, WorkChain.io is a new payroll system created on the blockchain that gives employees access to their earnings as they work. To avoid price volatility users’ money is held as the stable coin TrueUSD, which is linked in value to the American dollar. At present, TrueUSD cannot be withdrawn directly, so WorkChain has collaborated with cryptocurrency debit card Wirex to enable users to access their earnings easily.
A key part of the move towards mainstream acceptance is the ability to use cryptocurrencies seamlessly in everyday settings. Hong Kong start-up Crypto.com has worked with America’s Metropolitan Commercial Bank to issue its crypto-linked debit cards in the US. Users can store their money in one of seven cryptocurrencies, which can be easily converted into various fiat currencies at the point of transaction. Supported by Visa, the card offers real-time interbank rates, no foreign transaction fees, free ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world, and can be used at more than 40m locations worldwide.
A mobile mindset
As online and mobile payments continue to rise, and cryptocurrencies become more ubiquitous, an integrated crypto-wallet will soon be an integral part of the smartphone eco-system.
This mindset shift has already been embraced by Norwegian web browser Opera, which offers a built-in cryptocurrency wallet in its latest launch for Android and iOS. Through the wallet, consumers can seamlessly send and receive cryptocurrency, pay for online purchases and explore decentralised web apps that run on a peer-to-peer network rather than a single computer.
While cryptocurrencies are inherently global in nature, there is a notable appetite for them in parts of the world where traditional fiscal systems are deemed to be broken. In Venezuela, decentralised digital currency Dash has joined forces with hardware manufacturer Kripto Mobile on a low-cost cryptocurrency-enabled phone. It retails for less than £77 ($100, €89) and comes complete with an integrated, ready-to-use wallet to store Dash coin.
‘We are seeing an incredible transition period in Latin America with those who are unbanked, underbanked or simply do not want to use the traditional banking system,’ says Luis Sosa, co-founder of Kripto Mobile. ‘Combining our accessible, affordable phones with Dash’s InstantSend transaction capabilities and low fees will provide myriad if benefits to these communities.’
Learning the ledger
With 68% of Generation Z interested in peer-to-peer payments, there is an opportunity for brands to tap into this P2P mindset by demystifying cryptocurrencies for younger audiences (source: Accenture).
Billed on its website as the ‘future of pocket money’, Pigzbe is a hand-held device and mobile app that teaches children aged six and above about healthy spending habits. This piggy bank for the 21st century enables users to collect and exchange blockchain-enabled tokens, known as Wollo, which family members can pay into the child’s account in lieu of physical pocket money. While this generation will grow up learning about cryptocurrencies, there is also a need to educate previous generations. Benivo, a company specialising in the relocation of staff, has launched its interactive chatbot Ben to help answer questions like What is Bitcoin? and What are smart contracts?
For those seeking more in-depth knowledge of how the blockchain works, technology provider æternity and peer-to- peer online education network Dacade have collaborated on a free online course that rewards students in æternity tokens. As Nikola Stojanow, CEO of æternity Ventures, explained in a statement, the initiative aims to ‘educate future entrepreneurs, users and developers to identify blockchain’s unique advantages and become aware of possible applications’.