According to research conducted by the Capgemini Research Institute, nearly 45% of customers around the world will use cryptocurrencies for payments within the next 1-2 years, due to the growing need for cross-border payments. At the moment, less than 10% of global consumers use cryptocurrencies for payments.
While the legal status of cryptocurrencies varies from country to country, the fact that they can be recognized as legal tender (as El Salvador’s example demonstrates) shows that there is a place for them to be found in payments and that people can also use them to conduct their purchases.
While Bitcoin is not the best crypto asset for payments going forward, there are other options available which can be used for payments. Assets with lightning-quick transaction speeds, like Ripple, Solana, EOS, Neo, Cardano and Ethereum (following the rollout of Ethereum 2.0), for example.
Advantages of crypto payments
We have already seen El Salvador implement Bitcoin as a legal tender. Its advantages include censorship-resistance, quick and cheap payments and an anti-inflationary system. Only time will tell if El Salvador’s move bears fruit. If it does, we could see other countries follow suit. It must be noted that Bitcoin’s initial goal was to be used for payments – its current appeal is more as an investment instrument but this could soon change.
When it comes to payments, efficiency is a priority. A cross-border payment in crypto can take minutes, or even seconds to clear – as opposed to several days of clearance time (potentially) with fiat transfers. Currently, payments platforms and financial institutions charge colossal fees for international transactions and take significant time to process.
In today’s increasingly digital age, speed is of the essence when it comes to the completion of any task, of course in a streamlined manner. Needless to say, the integration of crypto assets into global finance will make local and international payments easy. Also, functionalities can be built into crypto transactions in the form of smart contracts.
For example, you could send pocket money to your child who is studying overseas and program the money to not be spent on junk food. Automation of payments based on pre-fixed conditions is also a possibility. Of course, the security that comes with blockchain technology is another advantage of incorporating crypto payments globally.
With a market cap of $2.5 trillion at the time of writing, crypto tokens have become an asset class in their own right, and the gap between the crypto and fiat spheres is gradually closing.
What is the future for this sector?
We are approaching a future where cross-border payments can be completed with a single, quick crypto transaction. The real benefit of crypto payments is being able to use cryptocurrencies in our day-to-day lives. While receiving payment in crypto and converting to fiat is still a quick process, the fees get piled on – convenience and savings hold key importance here.
The future for this sector is indeed bright but we need businesses all over the world to accept crypto payments to harness their true potential. We need a digital world where crypto payments for all kinds of goods can be made with a single click. At the moment, over 15,000 businesses globally accept crypto payments. These include Microsoft, PayPal, Overstock, Whole Foods, Etsy, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Newegg, Home Depot, Rakuten and Twitch – the list goes on.
Once crypto payments become mainstream, I expect players in the industry to build infrastructure to add to the capabilities of crypto assets and facilitate direct crypto payments as I mentioned in the previous section. CBDCs are a way forward as well and will slowly but surely transform global finance.
The lack of regulation is a hindrance to growth at this moment and the adoption of CBDCs could see cryptocurrencies gain more importance and traction rapidly. Many countries do not have taxation rules in place at the moment and do not know how to treat crypto assets. And since they cannot understand crypto assets, they refuse to acknowledge their importance.
This is why I feel 2022 could be a turning point for the crypto industry in terms of global finance, with CBDCs likely to receive a huge global push. China is leading the way at the moment and countries like the UK and India are not too far behind.
The crypto industry will continue to develop and the demand for crypto assets will rise. Global crypto adoption for payments will not only add ease to cross-border payments at low costs but also allow us access to programmable and automatable payments.
China will play a leading role in global crypto infrastructure in the near future, owing to its progress with CBDC technology. The growth of India as a crypto-using nation is heartening to see as well – India has the most active crypto users at the time of writing.
Financial institutions are seeing cryptocurrencies in brighter light and their acceptance of digital currencies is key to the future growth of the industry. In the end, the goal is not to eradicate traditional finance but enhance it.
Greg Waisman, co-founder and COO of the global payments network Mercuryo.