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IMF Poll: Cryptocurrency Payments Will Be Mainstream By 2024

An ongoing poll by the IMF shows that more people believe that cryptocurrency will be the most popular payment means for lunch by 2024.


More People Prefer Crypto

As at press time, more than half of the respondents say they would use cryptocurrency to pay for lunch in five-years’ time. Of the almost 26,000 votes cast, 56 percent chose cryptocurrency, while another 29 percent selected mobile phone payment.

With the continued integration of cryptocurrency payments onto mobile platforms, perhaps some of those 29 percent could pivot to the crypto side. Meanwhile, cash and bank card payments so far have a combined total of 15 percent on the poll.

However, ongoing developments in the virtual currency payment arena mean that the options provided by the IMF aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

Case in point, Coinbase on Wednesday (April 10, 2019) announced the launch of their cryptocurrency Visa card. The card allows UK customers to spend Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies instantly at every Visa-accepting merchant, i.e. everywhere.

A portion of the company’s blog post announcing the launch reads:

Coinbase Card supports all crypto assets available to buy and sell on the Coinbase platform, meaning they can pay for a meal with bitcoin, or use ethereum to fund their train ticket home.

Bitcoin Accepting Merchants Increasing Globally

Cryptocurrency in many ways is an extension of the cashless trend that continues to take root across the world as consumers aim for greater retail payment convenience.

As previously reported by Bitcoinist, a Kaspersky Labs research showed that 13 percent of people across 22 countries have used Bitcoin (BTC) to make purchases.

There are already restaurants in different parts of the world that accept cryptocurrency as payment for meals. More than 1,500 restaurants in Denmark alone accept Bitcoin. There are also establishments in New Jersey and Nyeri, just outside of Nairobi, Kenya that take crypto as payment for meals.

According to Coinmap, there are more than 14,600 establishments that accept Bitcoin across the world. This figure takes into account cafes and restaurants.

Issues with Cryptocurrency Micropayments

According to a recently published research by DataLight, Bitcoin is already the preferred choice for large value cross-border transfer due to the fee structure. However, the report goes further to predict that Bitcoin will surpass Visa and Mastercard for micropayments within the next decade.

There are a few issues that could potentially emerge in the wake of such a trend. The first is the tax implications attached to making retail payments via Bitcoin given the spotty cryptocurrency taxation in many jurisdictions.

The revelation that the Bakkt lunch could see the arrival of “Bitcoin for Starbucks coffee” did bring up this particular consideration. If laws aren’t created write-off cryptocurrency microtransactions, then tax filing might become onerous for those who pay for lunch with BTC.

Another issue is the incentive for people to spend what is essentially a valuable investment for lunch and other micropayments. In Arnhem, for example, the place dubbed “world’s most Bitcoin-friendly city” has seen a gradual drop in the use of BTC for payments.

Will everyone be paying for lunch with cryptocurrency in 5 years? Share your thoughts below!


Images via Twitter (@IMFNews) and Coinmap.org, Shutterstock

The Rundown

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Ukraine’s Capital Kiev May Soon Accept Bitcoin for Public Transport

Authorities at the Kiev City State Administration (KCSA) are reportedly re-examining the merits of adopting Bitcoin (BTC) payments in the city’s public transport system. The move is part of efforts to upgrade Kiev’s public transport infrastructure to meet up with the standards seen in other major cities across the globe.


Accepting Bitcoin on Kiev’s Public Transport System

According to iaftnews, the KCSA is going back to its previous plan of adopting BTC payment in the city’s public transportation network. Inside sources with knowledge of plan revealed:

The question has already been raised in 2018, but this idea had to be temporarily abandoned, given the cost of bitcoin at that time. Now, as you know, bitcoin has fallen heavily in price, which opens up new opportunities.

Back in August 2018, reports emerged that the KCSA planned to launch BTC payments for bus fares within the city. However, the plan failed to materialize but it appears that the city is trying a second time to implement the process.

The introduction of BTC payments in Kiev’s public transport system is part of the city’s drive to revamp its public transportation sector. In February 2019, the Kyiv Smart Cards – a prepaid card that provides access to all forms of public transport in the city went on sale.

Bitcoin payment for bus

Bitcoin as Part of Vision 2024

Kiev plans to make its entire public transport system utilizing only e-ticketing infrastructure by 2024. Like Dubai’s NOL card and Argentina’s SUBE travelcard, the Kyiv Smart Card can be used on the subway, buses, trams, route taxi, electric trains, etc.

Mega cities around the world are pivoting towards the system as a way of simplifying the process of commuting within a metropolis for locals and tourists alike. A

s reported by Bitcoinist, cities in Argentina already allow Bitcoin as a means of payment for topping up the credit balance on SUBE travelcards.

For KCSA officials, the hope is that the developments in e-ticketing made thus far will aid the BTC adoption process. There are also future plans to introduce a single Bitcoin ticket for all modes of public transportation in Kiev.

If approved, the move will significantly enhance the reputation of BTC and cryptocurrencies in Ukraine. In mid-2018, Ukraine’s securities chairman called for the legalization of many cryptocurrencies, saying the world has crossed the “point of no return” as concerning cryptos.

Do you think that Bitcoin is an efficient payment method for municipal public transportation system? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock

The Rundown

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Paul Brody: Bitcoin Has No Practical Use

Paul R. Brody, the Global Blockchain Innovation Chief at Ernst and Young (EY), says he sees no practical application for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This statement comes amid a growing rate of adoption of virtual currencies in both developed and developing nations. 


Tokenized Fiat (Not Bitcoin) is The Future of Money

Speaking to Forbes India, Brody opined that he hardly sees any practical application for Bitcoin (BTC) or any of the other over 2,000 cryptocurrencies currently in existence. According to the EY executive, crypto-fiat and not Bitcoin is the future of money.

Commenting on the matter, Brody declared:

Most people and companies earn their revenue and spend their money in local currency; we believe the future of business transactions on the blockchain are tokenized fiat currencies-basically blockchain-linked dollars, euros, yen, rupees and so on. Transacting on a day-to-day business in a foreign currency just adds foreign exchange risk to all your transactions.

For Brody, Bitcoin’s deflationary currency model makes it a poor form of money for widespread global adoption. Instead, Brody maintains that the modern-day fiat model is still the best bet, claiming that hyperinflation is at best a minute probability.

Bitcoin Accepted Here

Global BTC acceptance is up by more than 700 percent in the last six years. More than 140,000 retail avenues across the world now accept Bitcoin as a means of payment.

The top-ranked cryptocurrency continues to see increased usage — from remittance payments in Africa and Southeast Asia to public transportation in Argentina.

As a store of value and an investment asset, BTC continues to outshine mainstream markets despite going through multiple high percentage price plummets. Bitcoin (BTC) has outperformed the S&P, DOW, and NASDAQ over the last ten years.

Saying cryptos, in general, have no practical use would be akin to calling the attention generated by the industry as little more than a fad. Such a characterization seems at odds with the increasing level of institutional adoption of cryptocurrency-based investments. Public pension funds, stock market operators, and other multi-billion-dollar corporations are investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. That hardly seems like an asset class with “no practical use.”

Blockchain is Boring

While declaring Bitcoin’s supposed lack of real-world utility, Brody believes that Blockchain, despite being the “most boring revolution in technology,” has the potential to affect many aspects of the global business process. However, the EY exec says that blockchain isn’t a one-stop shop solution for every type of business. Elaborating further, Brody declared:

One must carefully choose the kinds of business applications to run on the blockchain. Even though blockchains are getting faster, they are never going to be cheaper or faster than existing banking payment systems or stock exchange platforms.

Speaking during the interview, Brody predicted that blockchain would eventually become like the Internet but with a visible lack of centralization. In the end, Brody believes that the different approaches in the industry will condense into a uniform set of principles that would drive the technology moving forward.

What are the other practical Bitcoin cases that you know? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. 


Image courtesy of Bitcoinist archives.

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Major US Retailer Ditches Visa – Now Considering Bitcoin’s Lightning Network

US retail giant, Kroger, is no longer accepting Visa credit cards at its chain of Smith’s food and drug stores. So Anthony Pompliano tweeted an offer to hook them up with Bitcoin’s Lightning Network nationwide.


Fees-a Not Accepted Here

It all started on Friday when Kroger announced the move to no longer accept Visa credit cards, citing excessive fees. The Smith’s chain comprises 134 food and drug stores across 7 states, employing 20,000 staff.

Card fees charged by Visa are higher at Smith’s than any other credit card brand, explained Kroger CFO, Mike Schlotman:

Visa has been misusing its position and charging retailers excessive fees for a long time.

Visa is actually due to increase fees for the banks processing card payments on behalf of merchants in April.

Pomp And Circumstance

In the circumstances, it seemed only natural for somebody to suggest a crypto alternative, and Pompliano rose to the occasion. “Who knows someone on the leadership team there?” he tweeted.

The Morgan Creek Digital team will fly to meet them and get them hooked up with the Lightning Network nationwide.

A couple of hours later a product manager from Kroger Digital tweeted a response and set up a conversation.

Obviously, the Ripple army dove right onto this, questioning Lightning Network’s readiness, and suggesting XRP as a better alternative. More interestingly, someone suggested selling Smith’s gift-cards on BitRefill, which would certainly make a zero effort stop-gap solution.

The Tip Of The Iceberg

But this is a very big deal. Smith’s is the second Kroger brand to stop accepting Visa credit cards, after Foods Co. supermarkets in California. Successful implementation of a Lightning Network payment solution at the retailer could lead to a wider roll-out across Kroger brands.

kroger

Kroger is the largest supermarket chain by revenue and the third largest employer in the United States, along with the third largest retailer in the world. As of December 2018, it operated 2,765 supermarkets and multi-department stores, either directly or through subsidiaries.

Ripple army excepted, I’m sure there is a high level of confidence in Pompliano and Morgan Creek Digital to make this work.

And Visa… you only have yourself to blame!

Will major retailers like Kroger accept Bitcoin and Lightning Network payments? Share your thoughts! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Visa, Mastercard Plan To Increase Transaction Fees; Cryptocurrencies Don’t

Visa and Mastercard are planning to increase transaction fees for US merchants who accept card payments, Reuters reports. The hikes, which come into effect in April 2019, are likely to further damage already the fragile relationship between payment providers and merchants.


Fees-Us Christ

According to sources, the increases will firstly affect interchange fees, which merchants pay their banks when accepting a card transaction. Fees that the banks pay to Visa and Mastercard for processing payments will also increase, says the report.

A spokesperson for Visa confirmed that fees would rise in April, but only for banks, not merchants. However, banks are not known for their benevolence, or for reducing profits by absorbing costs. So they are likely to pass on these fee increases to the merchants.

Similarly, merchants exist to make a profit, so will have to weigh up whether to pass these costs on to the consumer.

Bottom line – We’re all getting stung.

In The Name of Security

The card companies tend to justify their fees by claiming security measures must be enhanced to prevent fraud and theft. They also point out that merchants receive more sales if they accept card payments.

But in Q4 2018, Visa’s net income rose to $2.85 billion, an increase of 33% on results for Q4 the previous year. Similarly, Mastercards Q4 profits last year climbed to $1.9 billion, also a 33% jump on the $1.43 billion in Q4 2017.

Perhaps the fees need to be raised to cover the $6.2 billion payout the two companies faced after losing a US anti-trust case? Although that money had supposedly already been set aside, the merchants are gearing up for round two.

Or perhaps US fees need to be increased to offset reduced profits (not losses, never losses) in Europe, due to anti-trust investigations there?

Bottom line – Visa and Mastercard are not to be trusted.

The People Are Revolting

Or at least the people should be revolting. We are all being overcharged thanks to the hegemony of the big two payment processors.

But there are alternatives… and they scare the crap out of Visa and Mastercard. That’s why, despite a widespread denial in financial circles that Bitcoin is anything like cash, they both charge cash-advance fees for bitcoin purchases.

And now that Visa and Mastercard are throwing their weight into political arguments, we should be demanding that our favored merchants accept cryptocurrency payments. After all, if accepting card payments increase overall sales then accepting bitcoin opens up a whole new market.

And all efforts are going towards reducing fees for bitcoin and crypto transactions.

Bottom line – We would all be better off using bitcoin.

Can cryptocurrencies capitalize on Visa and Mastercard raising their fees? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock