The widely distributed editorial below was a joint effort between Blockchain Relations and NetworkNewsWire.
NetworkNewsWire presents CryptoCurrencyWire commentary: There is a massive, underserved target market out there for cryptocurrency – a market succinctly delineated by World Bank statistics that indicate 2 billion or more people worldwide are unbanked, as well as by FDIC data that shows more than 23 million Americans are either unbanked or underbanked. Such data illustrates how cryptocurrency is poised to potentially disrupt the digital payments landscape by ensuring an alternative to traditional banking; and, of course, all merchants are eager to avoid transaction fees regardless of where they do business in the world, which is a primary driver of ongoing growth in merchant acceptance. The underlying potential and increasing acceptance of cryptocurrencies has sent many different kinds of demographics racing to find the “Bitcoin 2.0” killer coin. Contenders such as the community-centric SmartCash (Crypto: SMART) (SMART Profile), with its self-replenishing SmartHive Project Treasury and ongoing innovation, are gaining more attention. Major market players in the crypto-asset movement like payment-focused Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ), PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:PYPL) and Visa, Inc. (NYSE:V) are becoming increasingly aware of such attractive crypto-assets as SmartCash, and blockchain-focused juggernauts such as International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE:IBM) are lining up as well.
Crypto Can Serve as Superior Substitute for Outdated Payment Systems
Even before scalability issues in the Bitcoin (Crypto: BTC) blockchain are resolved (a situation that would help put BTC more center stage when it comes to consumer choice for buying everyday goods and services), the benefits of crypto for tasks such as value transfer are becoming increasingly apparent. Because crypto-assets leverage the power of blockchain technology to clear and quickly settle transfers without the need for an intermediary, comparatively antiquated banking networks are beginning to look like dinosaurs; particularly when it comes to cross-border payments. IMF Monetary and Capital Markets Department Deputy Director Dong He even recently asserted that the increasing prominence of crypto-assets stands to reduce demand for the fiat currencies issued by central banks themselves (http://www.ccw.fm/VAE1u).
True Innovators are the Long-term Darlings
The ever-growing interest among merchants to adopt immediate settlement-capable cryptocurrency tech that is also universal, decentralized and fraud-resistant is exciting news. It’s notable to mention that the addition of direct buying and selling of bitcoins in Square’s wildly popular Cash App has played a part in doubling the rate of downloads (http://www.ccw.fm/4vWMs). Needless to say, it is easily understandable why retailers across multiple industries would be pushing Square to accept bitcoins for transactions considering the benefits of using crypto instead of payment systems like credit cards.
European cryptocurrency payment gateway Coingate recently partnered with opensource ecommerce developer Prestashop, enabling 80,000 new merchants across Europe to accept crypto payments (http://www.ccw.fm/3Az2V). Merchant services provider BitPay’s CEO Stephen Pair recently touted the $40 million secured in a Series B round to expand services in Asia, where merchant adoption appears to be accelerating handily (http://www.ccw.fm/P8Heo). South Korean internet giant Kakao, which runs major cryptocurrency exchange UpBit, also recently announced crypto integration, opening payment acceptance to 12,000 merchants and 3 million-plus registered KakaoPay users (http://www.ccw.fm/hV75l).
SmartCash is Holding the “SmartCard“
Increasing the merchant adoption rate is one area where SmartCash (Crypto: SMART) really shines with a host of innovative features. A growing network of SmartNode servers, currently totaling more than 12,000, will enable SmartCash’s soon-to-be released feature InstantPay for real-time transactions (Bitcoin often takes 10 minutes or more). Achieving such a large, decentralized network of servers as this is a direct result of a significantly more community-focused approach by the SmartCash project. Notably, 70 percent of mined block rewards are set aside to help fund projects submitted by community members and bolster the SmartHive teams who maintain and promote the network. SmartNodes help to future-proof the SmartCash project as well, due to their inherent ability to add new services and bypass the kinds of performance and scalability issues that have plagued Bitcoin. Just last year there were many troubling reports of transactions that went dormant for days on end as a severe backlog left transactions unconfirmed and users furious.
A key element for merchant adoption of crypto is consumer confidence and receptivity to usage, because merchants want their customers to feel satisfied. SmartCash offers such user-friendly features as username-based addresses that make it easy to make any sort of transaction, including tipping and donating. Custom username-based addresses also do away with the complex and worrying addresses like those used by BTC, which often leave customers biting their nails at transaction time, wondering if they correctly entered the lengthy alphanumeric code and sent crypto to the correct party.
SmartCash also offers handy features like send-to-email that lets anyone with an email address receive SMART coins, even if they don’t have a wallet, making it very easy for experienced users to send payment to new users who have no experience with cryptocurrencies. SmartCash’s SmartRewards program also grants a reward to holders of 1,000 SMART or more in a wallet at a set time every month – a measure that was implemented to help reduce price volatility by reducing the amount of coins constantly traded, characteristically benefiting the whole community. Additionally, because transaction fees are less than a tenth of a penny ($0.001), SmartCash is very attractive to both merchants and buyers (http://www.ccw.fm/13WmG).
To further facilitate merchant adoption, the SmartCash project will release a physical card-ready platform called the SmartCard within several weeks that will work similarly to the way the company’s already-available SmartBand does today. The card format is familiar to consumers and allows them to skip taking out their phone to load up an app. In fact, no Internet connection is needed at all by the consumer, which means never having to worry about dead batteries or lack of signal in remote areas. SmartCard will also be usable in places where traditional banking services are only partially available, or even absent entirely. With SmartBand already accepted by some 2.5 million merchants in Brazil and an estimated 726 billion digital payments to be facilitated per year by payments processors of all types by 2020 (according to a recent study by Capgemini and BNP Paribas), the SmartCard system stands ready to gobble up significant market share.
SmartCash is a truly unique crypto project because of the heavy emphasis on being community-driven. This is a serious departure from most other cryptos and the individual SMART holders get to have a real voice. Furthermore, the self-funded SmartHive Project Treasury and accessibility of block mining to standard PCs means that anyone can support the network. The SmartHive governance portal approach does away with the traditional hierarchy and inefficiencies of a company structure and represents a management structure as distributed and decentralized as blockchain technology itself.
SmartCash seems to scratch all the right places where the digital payments market is ripest for disruption. And while some players have made noises about moving away from crypto altogether, focusing instead on enterprise-scale blockchain tech and standard fiat currencies to handle things like cross-border payments, the use of innovative crypto like SmartCash or Stellar’s Lumens (Crypto: XLM) could change all that. The payment-focused players could also be swayed by such rich feature sets, moving away from Bitcoin and into next-generation cryptos that threaten to become “Bitcoin killers” by offering a bevy of procedural advantages.
Square, Inc. (NYSE: SQ) has seen its share price soar by some 60 percent since the merchant services aggregator’s announcement about allowing bitcoins to be purchased via the Cash App (http://www.ccw.fm/Vq4Wm). And, notably, a recent Nomura (NYSE: NMR) survey reveals 60 percent of business owners using Square’s technology for rapid payment via smartphone would accept bitcoin as a form of payment (http://www.ccw.fm/3aUAm). Dan Dolev, a top analyst at Nomura’s independent equity trading arm, Instinet, put a $64 price target on Square this March, due in large part to the strength of the company’s crypto adoption. However, many analysts grow increasingly concerned about Bitcoin’s ability to fulfill the vital crypto role in this equation, given outstanding transaction time, price volatility and high transaction fees.
PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL) was in the news recently due to comments from ousted CEO Bill Harris, who downplayed merchant adoption rates of Bitcoin, citing some of the aforementioned concerns, even going so far as to call Bitcoin a scam. Little wonder he got his walking papers, given the pro-crypto attitude of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and more recent developments such as a patent application filing in March by the company for a system to speed up handling those long private keys used to transact BTC. The patent application details a means of creating secondary wallets with their own unique user keys for buyer and seller, practically eliminating the wait time payees currently experience when trying to ensure they will receive a given virtual currency payment.
Visa, Inc. (NYSE: V) former CEO of UK and Ireland operations Marc O’Brien recently joined Estonian crypto startup Crypterium, which raised $52 million last year via an initial coin offering. Crypterium is laser-focused on eliminating the difficulties associated with using crypto for everyday transactions and seeks to streamline the entire process, hoping to eventually partner with Visa to roll out crypto and/or virtual cards attached to proprietary wallets. This is an area that Visa already has considerable experience in, with offerings such as Virtual VISA credit cards. O’Brien was keen to highlight the potential here in a recent Business Insider interview, noting how Crypterium and Visa could provide a haven for consumers in high-inflation markets such as Argentina or Turkey.
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), whose new head of blockchain development recently acknowledged cryptocurrency talks with about 20 central banks from various countries (including G20 nations), is predicting that some will dare to toy with crypto, with the most potential shown by Sweden, North America and Asia (http://www.ccw.fm/2Mn0V). IBM’s crypto-friendly policies mark an evolution in the juggernaut’s rhetoric. The company is now doubling-down on its use of Lumens (XLM), and it has significant first-mover advantage in the space with the capacity to be a real king-maker for innovative cryptos.
On the Cusp of a Digital Sea Change
Any way you slice it, cryptocurrency is knocking on the door of the sprawling $3 trillion-plus global digital payments market (http://www.ccw.fm/0yd1W), demanding to be let in (if it doesn’t simply tear the door off). True innovators on the coin and blockchain ends of the market stand to be the biggest winners, with user-friendliness and merchant adoption in the driver’s seat.
For more information on SmartCash, please visit SmartCash (Crypto: SMART).
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