When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he uttered the famous phrase ālea iacta est (“the die has been cast”). On the October 21st, we had one of those moments and passed the point of no return. PayPal, one of the biggest payment companies in the world, with a market cap of $240 billion, 346 million users and 26 million merchants will soon allow its customers in the US to buy, sell and HODL Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin. In a press release the company announced that its new cryptocurrency service will be available in the US. in the coming weeks and by early 2021 customers will be able to use crypto to shop with its network of 26 million retailers. PayPal is offering this service to its US customers, then plans to add more geographies and features over time. PayPal also plans to expand the service to Venmo, its peer-to-peer payment app popular with younger consumers, by the first half of next year. While the announcement is cause for excitement, there is one big problem with the new service. PayPal users won’t be able transfer their cryptocurrency into or out of PayPal, nor will users have control of the private keys. PayPal is not alone here, Robinhood, Revolut and eToro are all in the same boat when it comes to crypto ownership. While there are many places to buy crypto which and keep ownership of the coins, there is no question that the announcement of PayPal’s crypto service is huge piece of news and has the potential to bring millions and millions of new users to crypto world and propel Bitcoin’s usage beyond speculation.
Ilias Louis Hatzis is the founder and CEO at Kryptonio, a bitcoin and cryptocurrency “keyless” wallet, that lets users manage bitcoin and crypto, without private keys or passwords.
PayPal’s foray into crypto, is a strong bullish sign for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. For the last 20 years, PayPal has built an enormous user base and has helped millions of individuals and businesses send and receive money. The 350 million people that already use PayPal, trust it with their money. With its recent move, PayPal adds adds a level of credibility and trust to Bitcoin and crypto.
Today, we are announcing the launch of a new service that will enable customers to buy, hold and sell #Cryptocurrency directly from their PayPal account. https://t.co/QS6JRmG9hs pic.twitter.com/uHBatfZkbF
— PayPal (@PayPal) October 21, 2020
As you can imagine, Bitcoin’s price went up more than $1,000 on Wednesday after PayPal’s announcement, shooting up to $12,800, far above the previous high in July 2019. Since the announcement, CoinMarketCap.com shows that Bitcoin went all the way past $13k.
Other fintech companies, such as mobile payments provider Square, stock trading app Robinhood, neobank Revolut, and social trading brokerage eToro already allow users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. All have had a huge boost in user growth and revenue because of their crypto offerings.
PayPal’s and crypto offering is similar to what its rivals are providing. For now Square is the only one that allows Bitcoin withdrawals, while RobinHood and Revolut are still not there. All of them have made millions in revenue though their cryptocurrency services, which is probably one of the motivations behind PayPal’s decision.
In the second quarter of this year, Square reported a huge increase in bitcoin revenue, generating $875 million, a 600% increase from the year before. For Revolut, cryptocurrencies was the most viral product it has launched to-date. The impact of cryptocurrencies was enormous, resulting in a huge growth in user acquisition and paving the way for a $500 million round in February, valuing the company at $5.5 billion.
In the second quarter of this year, PayPal processed $222 billion in payments and the big question for PayPal’s crypto service will be if users will use it to pay merchants for goods and services.
Cryptocurrencies’ volatility poses risks for merchants and shoppers. Also, transactions are slower and more costly than other mainstream payment systems.
With its new service, PayPal will try to address these issues. PayPal will manage the risk of price fluctuations and merchants will receive payments in fiat. When customers choose to pay via one of the four cryptocurrencies, the PayPal merchant will still receive the respective fiat amount, just like always. The merchant won’t even know in which cryptocurrency the customer used to pay. There will be no additional fees charged to the merchant for accepting and receiving cryptocurrency.
In effect, cryptocurrency simply becomes another funding source inside the PayPal digital wallet, adding enhanced utility to cryptocurrency holders, while addressing volatility, cost and the speed of cryptocurrency transactions. PayPal becomes a “second layer” that uses Bitcoin, but does not use blockchain. Most likely PayPal will hold a supply of digital assets and when user pay an online merchant, the transaction will not take place on the blockchain, but only in PayPal’s database.
Importance of PayPal’s decision
In the past, PayPal was not supportive of cryptocurrencies, actually it was anti-crypto. In 2018, Bill Harris, its previous CEO, called Bitcoin “the greatest scam ever”.
A lot has happened since. Bitcoin started a bull market cycle again, even exceeding $13,000 in June 2019. The launch of the Facebook Libra in that same month also changed a lot of things. PayPal was one of the founding members of the Libra association, before leaving the project under pressure from US. authorities. Now it has found itself changing its narrative and going in the other direction.
This is undoubtedly a turning point for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. PayPal decision to enter the crypto market is noteworthy, because of its size. For the first time, a company of this size allows its users to hold and use cryptocurrencies through its application. There’s no comparison in the potential exposure for bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, between PayPal’s offering and that of any other company in the past. This is probably the biggest step in the spread of digital assets, since the birth of Bitcoin. Not only will PayPal bring 346 million users, but also 26 million merchants who will now have the ability to offer Bitcoin as a payment method. Even if 1% of its users decided to purchase cryptocurrencies, that would mean another 3 million new users. PayPal has the potential to scale cryptocurrencies to hundreds of millions in transactions everyday.
Overall this news is important, verifies that Bitcoin is here to stay, will help build more awareness and trust with the general public, but there is also some risks here.
When I first heard of bitcoin, my first thought was “I already have a PayPal account to buy things online, why do I need bitcoin”? At the time, I failed to understand that bitcoin was a currency, not just a transfer protocol. I failed to understand you can store bitcoin long term.
Now, the same will happen with all the new Bitcoin users that PayPal brings to the market. Yes, they will buy and sell cryptocurrencies and we’ll see more transactions, but they will lack the knowledge of that they can really do with cryptocurrencies. Keeping them locked in to their platform, PayPal will give them a false perception of how Bitcoin works.
Some, will research and realize that there are other alternatives, and that you actually can own your bitcoin. But, the majority will remain content with PayPal’s offering, due to their inherent trust in the platform and that PayPal must know what’s best for them.
The race for Bitcoin has started, corporations are investing huge sums in Bitcoin we are seeing major companies changing their stance, from sworn enemies to frenemies. PayPal’s announcement will drive millions of people to the world of cryptocurrencies, will help make cryptocurrencies mainstream, publicly accepted and widely adopted.
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Novatti partners with leading global card payment company UnionPay
ASX-listed Australian fintech company Novatti Group Limited, a leading digital banking and payments company, has partnered with leading global card payment company, UnionPay.
UnionPay has more than 8.4b cards issued globally and a network spanning 179 countries and regions, highlighting its immense scale.1 In Australia alone, UnionPay is accepted by 90% of ATMs, 85% of point of sale terminals, and by major retailers such as Coles and Target.2
The partnership with UnionPay will drive growth in Novatti’s core payment processing business, with Novatti appointed as a UnionPay acquirer, providing UnionPay customers with access to Novatti’s merchant and transaction services across Australia.
The partnership will benefit other Novatti businesses, including ChinaPayments, Novatti’s China-focused, cross-border payments platform, which enables Chinese residents to pay Australian bills in Chinese currency. UnionPay has already been integrated into ChinaPayments, with transactions using UnionPay accounts already taking place. Further, ChinaPayments will shortly be integrated into the UnionPay app, providing eligible UnionPay users with direct access to ChinaPayments.
The partnership with UnionPay adds to Novatti’s growing list of tier-one global partners, including Visa, Alipay, WeChat Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Marqeta, and Decta. Growing commercial relationships and payments processing networks with these major partners underpins a core pillar of Novatti’s long-term revenue growth strategy, leveraging Novatti’s existing platforms and infrastructure to deliver more services and gain a greater share of wallets with our customers.
Managing Director of Novatti, Peter Cook, said, ‘We are thrilled to be partnering with UnionPay, a leading global card payment company. Through this partnership, Novatti will drive continued growth in our payment processing business, delivering further value from our existing platforms and technology.’
1. UnionPay International – https://www.unionpayintl.com/en/aboutUs/companyProfile/introductiontoUPI/ & https://m.unionpayintl.com/wap/en/mediaCenter/newsCenter/marketUpdate/7157.shtml
2. UnionPay International – https://m.unionpayintl.com/wap/en/mediaCenter/newsCenter/marketUpdate/6932.shtml
flexigroup announces strategic partnership with Mastercard
FlexiGroup announce a partnership with Mastercard to expand the application and distribution of bundll, the world first buy now pay anywhere platform built by humm. Already live in Australia, bundll allows customers to buy now pay later everywhere Mastercard is accepted and bundll their purchases into easy to manage instalments with inbuilt budgeting services.
Under the agreement, Mastercard will work with its partners to drive adoption and will support the development of the open-loop, work anywhere, pilot. The platform is able to support different integration and commercial models to achieve scale in different markets.
The agreement is for five years and is expected to deliver a sustainable growth path for humm, at the same time as expanding the services that schemes can provide to customers.
Richard Wormald, Division President, Mastercard Australasia said, “While there are lots of BNPL platforms around the world, this latest development for bundll is differentiated in the way it is able to partner with existing banking systems and provide BNPL technology and products without needing to sign up local retailers, while still generating a sustainable revenue stream. With the growth of BNPL, Mastercard understands that many issuers around the world are looking to solve for this increasing consumer preference.”
flexigroup CEO Rebecca James said, “The bundll platform is unique as it offers a turnkey but flexible solution to banks and other card issuers around the world. You don’t need to sign up merchants or integrate into legacy bank systems, and it will work in any regulatory environment.
“bundll’s proprietary affiliate programme also creates revenue sources globally, and creates a curated and unique shopping experience that is based on customer preference, not which retailer is paying for the click. Discussions are already well progressed with a number of banks under the strategic agreement.”
First strategic partnership for humm ventures
The partnership with Mastercard is the first announcement of humm ventures, an initiative designed to spearhead innovation between the Company and new partners. humm ventures will enable local and global companies to partner with flexigroup to utilise its substantial product and technology offering within their own ecosystem.
humm CEO Rebecca James said, “flexigroup has significant technology and data expertise within its market leading product suite, and through humm ventures we will collaborate and partner with the world’s best technology and payments companies to realise that potential. It will significantly increase the distribution potential for our technology stack so that our products can thrive in our partners’ ecosystems, without impacting our core business. We are excited about the opportunities that humm ventures will create to expand our market and the geographies in which we operate.”
Sephora Singapore Ropes in Atome to Offer Buy Now, Pay Later Payments
French beauty retail giant Sephora Singapore has partnered with Atome, a buy now, pay later service, to offer customers flexible payment options across its e-commerce website, mobile app as well as physical stores in Singapore.
Atome launched its service in December 2019 and now reportedly partners 1,500 online and offline retailers across verticals including fashion, beauty, homeware and lifestyle.
This partnership allows customers to split their purchases into three equal payments over time with zero interest, hidden charges or annual fees.
Sephora has 12 physical outlets in Singapore, an e-commerce website and mobile app, offering their range of products including makeup, skincare, fragrance, haircare, bath and body and more.
Alia Gogi, President of Sephora Asia, said:
“The shopping behaviour and profile of Sephora customers has evolved in the last few years, but especially so this year. They now not only expect a secure, seamless and easy payment experience but also flexibility and choice in how they shop and pay for their beauty products online, on mobile and in-stores.
We’re delighted to partner with Atome in introducing ‘buy now, pay later’ flexible payment options to first our Singapore, and later Malaysian customers, enhancing their shopping experience both online and in our stores.”
David Chen, CEO of Atome, said:
“We’re really humbled to partner Sephora, a global brand that is not only a leader in beauty and retail, but is also constantly evolving and staying on the forefront of the latest consumer shopping behaviours and payment trends.
We’re thrilled to be able to offer Sephora customers in Singapore, and later Malaysia, a safe, easy and flexible payment experience, especially as we enter the festive end-of-year shopping season.”
Featured image credit: Unsplash
GB & Partners invests €6 million in DiPocket
GB & Partners Investment Management Ltd. marked September with a 6 million Euro investment to further expand its fintech portfolio, advancing EXIM Cross-border Fund to take majority ownership of DiPocket Ltd.
DiPocket, registered as well as licensed in the UK and holding an e-money licence (while it has also recently received an e-money license in Lithuania (https://investlithuania.com/news/uk-fintech-dipocket-establishes-cee-base-in-lithuania/) enabling it to continue serving its clients across Europe after BREXIT), is the newest member of EXIM Cross-border Fund’s portfolio that is managed by GB & Partners Investment Management. GB & Partners’ continuous professional support will fast track DiPocket to become a dominant B2B financial service provider in the CEE region.
The company’s visionary founders (Fedele DiMaggio and Pavel Pokhylchenko), its 1,5 million EUR sales revenue of 2019, its international operations in more than 10 countries and its stable cooperation with Mastercard® since their founding in 2015 provide ample justification for the fund manager’s confidence.
The mission of GB & Partners,with its 100% holding company, Tomahawk Ltd. (the direct shareholder in DiPocket) is to bring unparalleled professional talents under one roof by uniting its fintech companies in a logically architected, extensive and diverse portfolio.
The fund manager sees the unique peculiarities of the multi-currency, multilingual region as an exceptional economic opportunity. DiPocket’s unique technical and IT capabilities coupled with the convenience of domestic IT knowledge and capacities, explain why Hungary could prove to play a key role (in addition to the Lithuanian center) in the region’s digital financial market. DiPocket offers a unique occasion according to its previous accomplishments and present competence.
“Coupling financial muscle with relevant industry expertise and a strong business network in our core Region, GB & Partners is the springboard we had been looking for to propel DiPocket into its next stage of development” – said Fedele Di Maggio, co-founder and CEO of DiPocket.
„The ambition of GB & Partners is not only to enter the regional, but also the wider European fintech picture. We would like to see DiPocket in an even more advantageously competitive situation and we will work on accelerating it to a track of exponential growth, backed by Hungarian expertise. Not only do we provide capital support and structural assistance, but also hire proven to be successful professionals like Márton Báti and Ádám Farkas through the management of Tomahawk” – explained Gábor Bürchner, chief investment officer of GB & Partners.
In contrast to the operational patterns of Revolut or Transferwise that are already established in the region and are very much focusing on serving the end-user, DiPocket puts the emphasis on the very custom needs of its corporate clients who choose to form the brand experience for their customers in accordance with their own cashless financial service needs. Among others, such as payment solutions for festivals or gift cards for shopping centers in the form of branded physical or digital Mastercard® cards. In addition to its product packages DiPocket also develops ancillary solutions like custom-made automated services, such as syncing invoicing with bookkeeping whilst communicating in real-time with the bank. Particularly effective for both large corporate clients and SMEs. These even more efficiently designed proceedings open up new horizons for companies at large.
„The flexible, trustworthy and innovative financial solutions of DiPocket are able to help Hungarian companies enter international markets, and also to strengthen their domestic positions” – continued Gábor Bürchner.
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