NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage: The growing popularity of cryptocurrencies has led to a surge in payment systems built on the blockchain technological revolution.
- Blockchain-based payments, which can be transacted directly between parties without bank involvement, allow those underserved by banks to access electronic payment.
- These blockchain-based payment systems are growing in popularity and prestige, with celebrity endorsements and appearances on the high street.
- They allow consumers to make fast payments and businesses to reduce payment processing fees.
The growing mainstream popularity of blockchain-based payments is reflected in a recent TV advertisement by SinglePoint, Inc. (OTCQB: SING) (SING Profile) for its cryptocurrency wallet. Online retailer Overstock.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: OSTK) is also launching a digital wallet service that supports cryptocurrencies, following the path of Square Inc. (NYSE: SQ), which is integrating bitcoin into its mobile payment systems. Electronic payment giant PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL) has taken out a patent for a faster cryptocurrency payment system, reflecting the company’s interest in this sector. Meanwhile, the growth of blockchain is driving growth for NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA), which produces graphic processing units used in cryptocurrency mining.
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Serving Underserved Markets
The personal finance industry has undergone enormous change during the past generation. Electronic payment, once a rarity, has become the norm. Whether paying online, through chip and pin, or with contactless card services, people use cash less and less. Not being able to pay electronically becomes an unexpected inconvenience.
This has created challenges for some businesses and customers. Those who aren’t well served by banks and traditional payment systems struggle to access electronic payment. This makes it harder to make payments, sometimes forcing them to work with cash. This, in turn, creates inefficiencies and increases the risk of accounting mistakes for the businesses involved, as they don’t benefit from having their money and payment records connected in an electronic format.
Fortunately, a new technology has arrived to serve these underserved markets — blockchain.
Blockchain Hits the Big Time
Those who have watched the financial news at all over the past few years have seen the impact of blockchain, even if they didn’t recognize it. Blockchain is the technology underlying cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, which hit the news last year thanks to a huge surge in market value.
Cryptocurrencies are becoming so popular that they now feature in advertisements on national television. SinglePoint, Inc. (OTCQB: SING) recently released the first TV promotion for its bitcoin wallet application, SingleCoin. SingleCoin can be used to store cryptocurrency and make payments with that currency, giving consumers an easy way to use this new form of electronic money. It’s a straightforward, simple-to-use digital platform that allows everyone to benefit from blockchain payments. SingleCoin is available on both iOS and Android devices and is accompanied by a detailed cryptocurrency guide on the company’s website, making cryptocurrency more accessible for ordinary consumers.
The advertisement, which features Shark Tank veteran Kevin Harrington, first aired on Fox Business. It focuses on how easily people can access cryptocurrency using the free SingleCoin app, allowing them to join the millions around the world already using cryptocurrency.
This move by SinglePoint is part of a wider shift in the way cryptocurrencies are used. Initially, these digital funds could not be used for ordinary commercial purposes; rather, they were a novelty for tech geeks and speculators. The first time someone paid for a pizza with bitcoin, it made the news. Over time, their use increased, as did speculation by investors. Cryptocurrencies soared in value but were still limited to payments within the internet.
Now, cryptocurrency is hitting the high streets. Companies from Japan to America and the Middle East are creating cryptocurrency ATMs and payment systems that allow cryptocurrency to be used in shops. These currencies have more practical value than before, increasing demand for applications such as SingleCoin, which let people buy, store and spend cryptocurrency using their phones.
The Benefits of Cryptocurrency
To anyone looking at this from the outside, it might seem a little pointless. Why would anyone use cryptocurrency when other currencies are already available and widely used? What’s the point of having an app such as SingleCoin?
Cryptocurrencies have several advantages over ordinary currencies, most of them stemming from the direct nature of cryptocurrency payments.
Conventional electronic payment takes place through banks, with payment processing companies as intermediaries. People can’t directly send money to each other. These electronic payments are actually requests to the bank to send money elsewhere. This creates delays in transferring the money, as the message filters through the system of separate banks and other companies. It also means incurring transaction fees, as set by banks and payment processors.
Cryptocurrencies get away from this. Consumers with cryptocurrency hold a special electronic key that allows them — and no one else — to access and transfer their funds. When they make a payment, the money is sent directly to the recipient. This cuts out the middleman and is often faster than a conventional payment.
This method can actually lead to lower payment processing costs. Instead of several banks and middlemen looking to make a profit on each transaction, there’s just the single company through whose exchange the payment is made. This means that companies such as SinglePoint can often afford to charge lower fees than their traditional competitors.
Cryptocurrencies can even be used to provide a blockchain backbone to other electronic payment systems. In these, consumers pay in traditional currency and merchants receive that traditional currency at the other end, but the transfers in between are made in cryptocurrency.
Dedicated cryptocurrency enthusiasts, with the technical skills to manage electronic finance directly, can use their computing skills to manage their cryptocurrency directly. But for the vast majority of consumers, systems such as SingleCoin may make a new and powerful form of payment accessible.
The Growing Credibility of Cryptocurrency
Until recently, cryptocurrency hasn’t been widely seen as a credible alternative to conventional payment, but that’s changing. A surge in the market value of cryptocurrencies last year drew widespread attention from investors. In the aftermath of the hype, prices fell, but these currencies were still left more valuable than they had been before. Serious investment sites now cover cryptocurrencies, and investors include them in their portfolios.
Celebrity endorsements have added to the credibility of crypto. When Harrington shows faith in blockchain by acting as a spokesman for SinglePoint, people pay attention. With his high public profile and reputation for savvy business dealings, he’s showing that business insiders believe in blockchain.
Even banks are paying attention. Though they are still wary of cryptocurrencies themselves, banks and other financial institutions have started researching how they can use blockchain in their own processes.
As cryptocurrency ATMs appear on the streets of Japan and SingleCoin wallets appear on ordinary consumers’ phones, it’s clear that blockchain is about to hit the mainstream. What was once a specialist payment tool for computer programmers, then a novel form of asset for investors, is now a widespread way of paying for goods and services.
A Different Approach to Finance
The increasing use of cryptocurrency is having secondary effects across the finance and tech sectors. The systems behind cryptocurrency are often data hungry, needing a great deal of processing power to run. This has driven increased growth for NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA), a technology company primarily known for its computer hardware. Sales of graphic processing units have risen to meet the demands of cryptocurrency miners, leading to growth in NVIDIA’s stock prices.
Online retailer Overstock.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: OSTK) has also become involved in payment systems. It recently announced the beta launch of a digital wallet service that will make it easier for consumers to bridge the gap between cryptocurrency and conventional payments. By connecting cryptocurrency wallets to their stores, retailers can make themselves the only intermediaries their customers need, increasing efficiency and gaining more control over their markets.
The biggest name in electronic payments, PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL) has taken an interest in blockchain. It was one of the first companies to help merchants on popular websites take payments using cryptocurrency and has been keeping an eye on the progress of this technology. The company is looking at ways to speed up payments using blockchain, as shown in a patent filing from earlier this year.
Mobile payment company Square Inc. (NYSE: SQ), whose technology can turn computers and phones into point-of-sale systems, has been working on integrating bitcoin into its systems. Its Square Cash app, which can be used to trade in cryptocurrency, saw growth in its user base even at a time when investor interest in cryptocurrencies was falling. Like SinglePoint, it’s building up a user base of cryptocurrency customers, getting ahead of competitors as cryptocurrency becomes more widespread.
Blockchain lets consumers and retailers regain control of their money from the banks. As cryptocurrencies grow in popularity, it could transform payments from Wall Street to the high street
For more information on SinglePoint, Inc., visit SinglePoint, Inc. (OTCQB: SING)
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