How Companies Are Making Cryptocurrency More Usable 4 1404

With each new day, there seems to be another discovery when it comes to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. What we once thought of as a mere system for creating bitcoin has become the hottest topic in town. From fixing issues with the supply chain to revolutionizing the financial and medical worlds, there’s no end to the blockchain’s capabilities.

It’s kind of like the app store. Apple created a life-changing technology and then opened it up to a world of creative genius coming from different places. Now our smartphones can be used for everything from measuring our heart rate to monitoring our babies. And the same is happening with the blockchain.

With around a dozen ICOs appearing each day, we’re starting to see some incredibly creative ideas. Whether they’ll go the distance or not is another question. With 90 percent of apps deleted or unused after one month, ICOs also face some pretty tough competition–and a few stumbling blocks when it comes to taking their ideas off paper. So, let’s take a look at some ways of making cryptocurrency more usable.

Removing the Need to Convert Cryptocurrency to Fiat

Zeex (a sister company of Zeek group gift cards) has come up with an interesting idea. One of the greatest challenges with buying crypto right now comes when you want to spend it. Not every store accepts bitcoin and the cost of converting to fiat can be unattractively high. That’s why Zeex is currently launching a protocol that will provide the ability for cryptocurrency holders to purchase items and services without the need for fiat conversion.

Guy Melamed, Zeex CEO & Co-Founder, explains, “Zeex targets one of crypto’s biggest problems and enables the growing audience of crypto holders to buy at major brands without the need to convert to fiat and with no fees.”

Gift cards is already big business. In fact, the global gift cards market reached $679,743 million in 2016, and is set to value some $3,003,320 million by 2023. Zeek is already an established VC backed startup with more than 300K customers, who use the company’s app and marketplace as a way to trade store credit they don’t want or need. That includes credit notes, gift vouchers, gift cards and e-vouchers.

Working with All Major Retailers

Powered by Zeek’s gift card platform that works with 350+ merchants, including Amazon, Foot Locker, and Starbucks, Zeex users will be able to make purchases using cryptocurrency. They can shop on Amazon using digital cash without the need for a traditional-crypto money conversion. There are no additional fees and it’s a simple, private, and secure procedure.

Through their platform, Zeex aims to connect the booming gift card market with the massive need for liquidity options in the crypto market. Pretty creative idea. How did they come up with something like that?

Melamed says, “We needed to find a creative payment method that would:

  1. Leave the traditional thinking and skip conversion to fiat altogether.
  2.  Avoid centralization and make sure no middleman can manipulate or stop the platform

By using the rails of virtual gift cards and placing a complete off-chain product on the blockchain, we managed to do just that and create a simple way for crypto holders to buy at the biggest brands, even if they don’t accept crypto.”

Combatting Crypto’s Infamous Volatility

Beyond converting crypto to fiat, another problem with cryptocurrency is that it’s incredibly sensitive to price fluctuation. How do you pay for goods that value $10 one day, $150 the next, and $1.50 a week later?

We’re starting to see the emergence of companies providing a solution to this problem. UbiquiCoin has emerged as one of the first decentralized currencies to take a two-coin approach to allow for crypto to be widely used. On the one side, they have a transaction coin at a stable rate that merchants everywhere could rely on. On the other, an investment coin that functions as their investment vehicle.

Unlike Bitcoin and other popular coins, UbiquiCoin is designed to be used for making daily purchases. From coffee and groceries to paying utility bills, it’s exempt from price volatility.

We’re yet to discover just how extraordinary cryptocurrency and the blockchain will be in our lives. The technology is still in its infancy and experiencing some teething trouble. With companies like Zeex and UbiquiCoin smoothing out the problems, we could soon be able to use cryptocurrency more widely.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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Fidelity to Offer Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans Comments Off on Fidelity to Offer Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans 48900

The move is the first for a major retirement plan provider and may signal more widespread adoption of the cryptocurrency. 

On April 26, Fidelity announced its intention to add a Bitcoin investment option to its 401(k) retirement plans. Employees of businesses that pursue the option will be able to allocate as much as 20% of their contributions to Bitcoin, all from the company’s main investment dashboard. According to reporting by the Washington Post, Fidelity said that at least one employer has already signed up for the option which will launch later this year.

“Fidelity’s leadership, especially CEO Abby Johnson, has been at the forefront of institutional Bitcoin and crypto integration for years and is no stranger to the space, with Fidelity’s private equity and venture capital arm being a major source of capital for crypto miners, crypto SPACs, crypto hedge funds and more,” says Eric Lamison-White, Director at STS Capital Group LLC, a cross-border advisory and investment firm. “It is completely in character for Fidelity to steadily and cautiously extend access to their working class customers as the regulatory climate becomes more productive.”

Critics suggest that the volatility of Bitcoin poses an unnecessary risk to a retirement portfolio. It’s a reasonable argument. At the time of this writing, the cryptocurrency’s price has fallen by more than 6% just today. Meanwhile, at $37,978 it’s a far cry from Bitcoin’s high of $68,000, representing more than a 40% drop since November 10th of last year. 

However, advocates of cryptocurrency’s long-term utility disagree.

“Cryptocurrency is a reliable, long-term store of value because it cannot be corrupted by central authorities,” says Lisa Carmen Wang, founder of The Bad Bitch Empire, a platform for female investors in web3. “We’ve already seen hyperinflation, bank failures, and other egregious disasters happen in the last few years, so trust in governments is at an all-time low. Crypto is inevitably volatile now because it is an early stage high-risk/high-reward investment, but for those who believe in the values of a decentralized economy, crypto is an attractive long-term investment that people should consider having in their portfolio.”

Regardless of your appetite for risk, the notion that savers will be able to easily manage contributions to Bitcoin in a respected retirement plan is meaningful.

As of last year, 63% of US adults that did not hold crypto were curious about it. Many people in the crypto-curious category don’t invest because they simply don’t know how. There’s a technological barrier to entry that can feel daunting. 

When you have major retirement plan managers like Fidelity making it easy to add Bitcoin to a portfolio through a dashboard users are already familiar with, we may see this group start investing in the asset class, moving digital currencies further along toward mainstream adoption.

How a Thief Stole More Than $1M in NFTs on Instagram Comments Off on How a Thief Stole More Than $1M in NFTs on Instagram 167

A common use case for the blockchain is reducing fraud. Shouldn’t that mean it’s impervious to hackers? Not necessarily. Here’s how a hacker was able to amass more than $1 million in stolen Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs.

For any of us that have received a nefarious link in our emails or on social media that encourages us to input private information, we’re already familiar with the logistics of phishing. A hacker sends us a link, usually under the guise of a brand or person we recognize, and asks for personal details like usernames, passwords, or bank details that aid them in assuming our identity or assets. 

It’s precisely what happened in the case of the Bored Ape Yacht Club hack which was announced on Twitter Monday morning. 

A hacker was able to take charge of the official Bored Ape Yacht Club Instagram profile, and sent a communication to followers claiming to be offering an “airdrop,” which is a term used to describe a free token giveaway. (Note: it’s not clear at this time how the hacker was able to login to the official Instagram, in the first place.)

Users were asked to link their wallet to benefit from the airdrop, which made their mobile wallet susceptible to the hacker and resulted in the transfer of multiple NFTs, presumably including four Bored Apes and a number of other NFTs minted by the Bored Apes creators, Yuga Labs.

The hack illuminates a glaring problem in the NFT market. Namely, MetaMask, the popular wallet application, only supports NFT display on mobile which is less user-friendly than the platform’s browser extension leading to mistaken transaction approvals.

What’s the solution for NFT holders? “MetaMask with Ledger,” according to Adryenn Ashley. “NFT holders need a wallet that gives them the ease of MetaMask with the security of hardware.”

The hack is a reminder that even though the blockchain has the potential to overcome fraud, users still need to be mindful of third party applications that manage their data. 

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