“Cash or card, miss?” “Cryptos, please”.

We’ve crunched through half of July (already?), which essentially means that we’ve only got another month and a half to go with that “summer feeling” and before you know it Santa hats will be back in season – depending of course where you live, since that feeling is very much prolonged in places like Cyprus -.

To get where we are today, we successfully endured a long winter, a “terrible” Game of Thrones ending – (no spoilers intended for those who have yet to catch up or haven’t watched the series…), we may have enthused ourselves way too much for the 3rd season of La Casa de Papel and among all these we have “survived” numerous political and financial turbulence across the world.

These days, unsurprisingly enough, few are the things that remain stable in life; and the cryptocurrencies you’ve been experimenting with are of course some of those. Irrespective of whether you’ve tested the waters through your Revolut or TransferWise appsCoinbase or any other cryptocurrency exchange platform, cryptocurrencies have shown how volatile they can be.

Bitcoin rests at $11,881.60 USD at the time of writing this post and it will have definitely changed by the time you exit this page.  In any case though, you still hold your cryptocurrencies, with a hope that one day that €20-30* (add here as many zeros as you wish) you decided to invest will actually be worth more. And when they do end up  being worth a lot more you will definitely want to use them for something, one would assume.

There are not a lot of companies that have started accepting payments in cryptocurrencies. Your local supermarket definitely hasn’t (yet!). Others however, like Overstock.com  have embraced the crypto-payment era, with Overstock being in fact one of the first big online retailers to start accepting Bitcoin payments in January 2014. Overstock.com allows its customers to pay for everything in Bitcoin and they have also recently added all the major cryptocurrencies (Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero and the upcoming Bitcoin Cash).

Similarly, Shopify allows merchants, that have set up their online shops for selling their products, to accept Bitcoin payments through BitPay.  You could even get that engagement/anniversary/birthday jewellery gift by “cashing out” your Bitcoin, since REED Jewelers allow you to buy fine jewellery and watches and pay in Bitcoin. It might probably ease the “pain” as you could be paying by using 1 or 2 Bitcoins rather than a few (hundred) thousands.

By now one would think that “if I can buy all this stuff with my cryptos, why can’t I do my local grocery shopping using Bitcoin, or pay my magazine / music subscription with my Ethers?”.

Start-ups like PumaPay offer to merchants the technology that is needed to break through the “cash or card?” norm.  PumaPay is currently building “a comprehensive payment system designed to help businesses accept cryptocurrencies with simplicity and ease of use”. The start-up, which is established and operating out of the sunny side of Limassol in Cyprus, is utilising blockchain technology to ensure security of their systems and gives its clients a billing solution so that they can start accepting crypto-payments. PumaPay has recently released their native wallet apps for iOS and Android, making the entire user experience seamless, secure and fully compatible with the customer’s device. Organizations like 2000Charge have also committed to adopt PumaPay’s cryptopayment and billing solution, bringing PumaPay a step closer in allowing businesses to easily accept cryptopayments using the same payment methods they are accustomed to. 

2000Charge is a global financial services organization that provides e-commerce merchants an end-to-end solution for credit card alternatives and pride themselves in offering services that eliminate the risk of chargebacks, securing merchants their funds. 

Some of the perks of  accepting cryptocurrency payments are that merchants are no longer burdened by the high fees and commissions paid via the conventional payment methods, as these can be reduced to rates of just 1% on the transaction value. The transaction process is simplified and the processing fees are smashed. By using crypto-payments,customers don’t need to open their wallets or enter any data – they can pay the goods and services just by scanning a QR code. This also makes the funds immediately available to the merchant, considering that the payment is successful. With adopting new technologies merchants also attract a new range of customers; not so much just the “millenials” but anyone who is willing to enter the waters of cryptocurrencies, blockchain and embrace new technologies. It may even be argued that accepting crypto-payments gives merchants a whole new edge.

Especially following the massive disruption caused by Facebook announcing that they will be launching their own new currency called “Libra”, we see that global colossus are now looking into becoming providers of low cost payment services by utilising blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Amid global upheaval and commentary from numerous regulators, politicians, financial institutions and associations, Facebook released the official white paper for Libra which sees major global payments players such as MasterCard, PayPal, eBay and Uber being members of the Libra Association – the governance group that will act as the validator nodes on the Libra Blockchain and who have also promised to control the value of the currency so that it does not fluctuate as much as other cryptocurrencies.

The news of the Libra Association and the launch of Libra (and the Libra Invest) cryptocurrency being launched by dominating players in the social media, financial technology and payments industries, with more than 2 billion users on a planet of around 7.7 billion, can only mean that cryptocurrencies are not to be disregarded for much longer; it remains to be seen how this amalgamation between blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and global social media and payments players will evolve.

One thing is certain though; that very soon we will have no more of those days when you’re stuck on a Ryanair flight trying to pay for your pizza panini and the air-stewardess is unable to accept your card, you have no Euros or Pounds left, and have to suffer the remaining of the flight in border-line starvation. A QR code to pay with your chosen cryptocurrency will be your way out to a (as much as it can be) enjoyable rest of your trip!

“Cash or card, miss?”

“In cryptos, please”. 

 

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