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When PayPal announced last month that its “super app” is ready to launch, this marked the payments company’s next big step towards the launch of a new consumer digital wallet that has been in the works for some time.
The new product will be rolled out in the U.S. over the next several months and is expected to offer a variety of financial, shopping and e-commerce services, including support of crypto payments – something that will give consumers the much-sought flexibility when they pay for goods and services and offer merchants the option to accept digital assets.
There’s no denying that a company of PayPal’s size offering the ability to spend Bitcoin and other digital assets at the point-of-sale will be a real big deal in terms of further adoption of cryptocurrencies as a form of legitimate means of value exchange. This is also something the already existing providers of crypto payments have a good reason to be worried about as a good portion of their customers may be lured away by new offerings.
Where it gets interesting
Nonetheless, PayPal is almost certain to have a proper run for its money. The ability to spend digital assets for goods and services has been available for several years, with the number of crypto processing services offering a way to spend your coins on a pizza or an educational online course growing each year.
Some platforms, for example, BitPay and CoinPayments to name a few, are among the industry’s veterans and have been around long enough to establish businesses trusted by millions of users worldwide. The likes of an open-source platform BTCPay Server and Coinbase Commerce entered the space only relatively recently, however, it didn’t take them long to garner the market’s attention either.
Many of those platforms offer merchants the ability to accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum and to instantly convert payments into fiat. Joining the bandwagon is also Crypto.com, a Hong Kong-based provider of alternative financial services – via its Pay service the firm not only offers zero fees for settlements in digital currencies but also cashback reward of up to 20 percent in CRO, the platform’s native token, for purchases made in the Crypto.com store.
Crypto.com Pay service also boasts a Checkout plugin for WooCommerce, the popular e-commerce platform for WordPress powering almost a third of all online stores in the world, as well as an invoicing feature. The merchants that chose the service include the likes of hardware wallet manufacturer Ledger, TIME Magazine, and Unstoppable Domains, a blockchain-based provider of domain names.
Competition is heating up
Compared to traditional financial services, cryptocurrency payments are not only faster, but also more cost-effective, so there’s little surprise that payment giants like MasterCard and Visa have been both increasing their presence in the space in recent months, specifically in the area of crypto credit cards.
Visa has already teamed up with several crypto companies, including the recently announced partnership with CryptoZoom that will see the Utah-based cryptocurrency exchange offer CoinZoom Visa cards to customers in the U.S.
These cards are connected to the CoinZoom wallet, allowing users to easily spend their fiat and crypto balances at over 53 million merchants across the globe. The tiered structure of CoinZoom Visa cards also gives user benefits such as discounts and cashback rewards.
Public Mint is another project that recently threw its hat into the ring, and did it with a twist. Designed as an open fiat-based blockchain and payments platform, Public Mint offers the ability to build applications and accept payments through credit cards, wire transfers, and stablecoins like Circle’s USD Coin (USDC).
In addition, the platform is about to roll out its EARN program that will grant access to high yield opportunities offered by the world of decentralized finance (DeFi).
One more addition to the list of contenders in the payments space is hi, the recently unveiled new cross-platform payment services app that leverages blockchain technology to build community-powered payment and DeFi services.
hi is a brainchild of several prominent crypto industry leaders and is operating through popular social messengers, such as Telegram and WhatsApp, with support for several other messaging services, including LINE, Facebook Messenger, and Viber, to be added in the near future.
The project’s first product is a digital wallet that provides access to more than 100 traditional and digital currencies, promising “a seamless payment experience” – all through a single account.
PayPal has been a big driving force for the blockchain ecosystem since making cryptocurrencies available on its native app. It’ll be interesting to see if blockchain companies work alongside PayPal, or if they’ll end up competing directly. In the meantime, it’s all very early stages and we have mountains of innovation to keep track of either way.