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Cryptocurrencies – Adoption & Reach 30 January, 2020   

The global financial crisis of 2008 paved the way for a revolutionizing idea in the form of ‘digital currencies.’ Despite warning from mainstream economists, businesses were excited as it meant more than just an opportunity to make millions. It offered freedom and changed the old age perspective on markets and exchanges. The underlying technology, Blockchain, transformed the way organizations handle payments, transfers, and critical information. The growth of cryptocurrencies around the world promised a bright future for its supporters. Today, after a decade of inception, cryptocurrencies have secured their place as an alternative to a stubborn, conventional financial system. With businesses and major financial institutions adopting the use of digital currencies and transactions, we are at the brink of ‘economic evolution.’

The wild ride of cryptocurrencies

The launch of the first digital currency, Bitcoin (2009), was an effort to sidestep the conventional financial system. It took more than a year from January 2009 to May 2010 for the first reported purchase using Bitcoin. From buying 10000 Bitcoins for just US$30 to US$38 million, Bitcoin has seen a value rise of 87000% since then. There has been a surge in new coins ever since Bitcoin made its mark. Some of these coins like Ethereum and Litecoin became as popular as Bitcoin not only in terms of profits they generated but also due to improvised mechanisms and technology used to design them.

However, these cryptocurrencies have had a wild ride during the last decade and faced some severe criticism. Nouriel Roubini (one of the economists who predicted the 2009 financial crisis) is one of crypto’s most vocal critics. He called Bitcoin, ‘mother of all bubbles,’ and tweeted to release Bitcoin and its allies in Shitcoin Hall of Manure Shame (2018). There is a rise in government-imposed regulations on cryptocurrencies. Robert Shiller, the Nobel prize-winning economist, once remarked, “while Bitcoin was a ‘really clever idea,’ it would not become a part of the financial world.’

The way forward

At the same time, other establishments like financial management businesses to non-profit organizations are making efforts to integrate crypto into their strategies. Individual and small- scale investors are examining the options and aiming to invest their assets in crypto-exchanges.

While there are plenty of options available as forms of payment for goods and services, organizations are taking baby steps and accepting cryptocurrencies. Few examples of such companies are:

  • Expedia: Expedia is one of the major companies that accept Bitcoin as a mode of payment. The only catch is that users cannot cancel their transactions once they begin.
  • PayPal: PayPal accepts Bitcoin for making transactions. These payments go through payment processors such as BitPay, GoCoin, and Coinbase to complete the process.
  • Subway: Subway is another major company to trade meals with Bitcoins. For now, they restrict the payments to Bitcoins and do not accept any other cryptocurrencies.
  • Microsoft: Amidst speculations of banning Bitcoins as a mode of payment for its products and services, Microsoft continues to accept them. However, will it keep up with it is uncertain.

Cryptocurrency started as a mode of payment for goods and services and mostly recognized by large, well-established businesses around the world. But due to its immutability, transparency and security, it has gained widespread acceptance from the non-profit community. Today, several world-renowned non-profit organizations accept crypto to varying degrees. For example,

  • Red Cross: One of the largest and most powerful non-profit organization, Red Cross accepts cryptocurrency donations. While it is not published on their website but a simple Google search leads you to their BitPay page that lets you make donations using Bitcoin.
  • United Way: One of the largest non-profits in America and one of the earliest adopters of Bitcoin donations (in 2014), United Way has definitely set an example. They, too, like Red Cross, do not publish accepting crypto as a mode of donation. A simple Google query will lead you to their Bitcoin donation page.

Many organizations are dwindling between the pros and cons of using cryptocurrencies, but it is a promising figure, to begin with for a relatively new idea.

It’s a bright future

One of the most remarkable aspects of cryptocurrencies against fiat is its ‘reach.’ Cryptocurrencies are free from geographical boundaries and offer a secured, unbiased platform to users across the world. Cryptocurrencies support the need for a decentralized market and are often considered a ‘threat’ by governments that fear losing control over the system. These countries have completely banned crypto-adoption with their anti-crypto legislation and criminalized (China) its use.

Fortunately, that is not the case around the globe. Today, countries are becoming aware and welcome crypto businesses. Countries like Malta, Bermuda, and Switzerland are the best places to begin your crypto businesses. The degree of acceptability varies from country to country, with some planning to launch their indigenous currencies soon.

  •      Singapore: With a population of 5.6 million, a highly developed market and a historic trading port, Singapore views Bitcoins as ‘goods’ and not as currency. As per the policy, companies buying or selling Bitcoins will pay a goods and services tax (currently set as 7%). In February 2018, the deputy PM of Singapore and Minister of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said that MAS is looking to bring Bitcoin under a singular regulation, but there is no foreseeable reason to ban it at present and that Singapore can tolerate the use of cryptocurrencies.
  •       The United States: The United States Treasury Department has been releasing advice on Bitcoin and its usage since 2013. Overall, the United States outlook on crypto usage has been lenient. With prominent businesses like Microsoft, Subway and non-profit organizations like United Way accepting Bitcoins in exchange for products and services, cryptocurrencies are increasing their grip on the market. The treasury has defined Bitcoin not as a currency but as a money services business and enforces adherence to certain responsibilities and taxation.
  • Switzerland: Switzerland is one of the earliest adopters of cryptocurrencies. The Swiss town of Zug, known as ‘Crypto Valley,’ has been a launchpad for some major crypto businesses like Shapeshift and Xapo. Switzerland passed some very encouraging laws regarding crypto and related businesses. They even approved Bitcoin as a payment mode for utility bills. Switzerland recently awarded licenses to the world’s first crypto banks (Sygnum and SEBA) and opened gates to the integration of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets into the established financial sector. Sygnum has even developed its own digital payment token, supported by Swiss francs, which can be used to complete trades on its platform. Switzerland is proving to be a haven for crypto and related technologies.
  • Japan: The world’s first major Bitcoin exchange (Mt. Gox) was based in Tokyo, making Japan one of the first adopters of Bitcoin. Japan was the first country to approve Bitcoin as a legal tender. It also was the first nation to pass the broad regulation aiming at the security of its 30+ crypto exchanges. In 2017, Japan released guidance related to tax payments on crypto benefits. In 2016, Japan’s cabinet recognized Bitcoin as “real money.” Japan’s largest bank MUFG plans to launch its cryptocurrency exchange making Japan a leading adopter and promoter of cryptocurrencies.
  • Germany: With a population of approximately 83 million, Germany is often considered a global leader in the technology and industrial sectors. It is also becoming a liberal adopter of cryptocurrencies by approving it as a valid currency but imposing stringent regulations.

Labeled as the ‘Bitcoin capital of Europe’ by the Guardian in 2013, Germany plans to leverage a blockchain strategy to boost digital transformation in the economy.

While cryptocurrencies have garnered a lot of support and involvement from several spheres and even governments, some nations are still apprehensive about its implementation. These countries vary in implementing moderate to stringent laws against crypto-coins and exchanges. For example, China prohibits financial firms from holding or trading cryptocurrencies. However, China’s stance on crypto became unclear when it announced the launch of its digital currency recently. Experts believe that this is a positive sign for the crypto market globally, as China was one of the most stubborn critics of crypto exchanges.

Cryptocurrencies are gaining momentum and improvising themselves in terms of security and transparency. In the year 2017, the global cryptocurrency market was valued at US$ 574.3 million, and it will expand further due to its growing popularity. The global crypto market is projected to grow at a spectacular CAGR of 31.3 during the period 2017 to 2025. By the end of the year 2025, the cryptocurrency market worldwide is estimated to be worth US$ 6702.1 million.

Revolutionary ideas like the Virie Market are bringing a fresh perspective to crypto-market through innovation. They support the idea of a decentralized ‘free’ market that offers the participants a platform to buy/sell what they want, whenever they want and from wherever they are. With growing popularity and investments, economic analysts predict a bright future for the crypto market and currencies in the years ahead. The efficiency of blockchain technology is attracting some of the major and renowned business houses to the world of cryptocurrencies. Be it China’s new digital currency or Facebook’s bid to launch a stable coin ‘Libra,’ there is a surge in cryptocurrency adoption around the world. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the world is at the brink of ‘economic evolution.’

Cryptocurrency Furture of Crypto Crypto Disruption Mass Adoption

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