Venmo Takes The Crypto Plunge As Major Institutions Jump

Another momentous week for the cryptocurrency markets filled with a hefty dose of institutional support from some big names. The week started off rocky with a significant fall in pricing for the world’s largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Following a week of impressive gains, Bitcoin had slumped 14% on Sunday to reach a low of $51,000 after having spent a month above the $60,000 mark. Reasons for this drawback in pricing are presumed to be a medley of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) which led to overzealous selloffs, and an electrical blackout in the Xinjiang province of China which took miners offline and sent Bitcoin’s hash rate plummeting. You can read more details on why bitcoin’s price dropped here. Since then, the coin has managed to rebound slightly, as it currently trades at $55,100 at the time of publishing. 

Despite this minor hiccup, the week began with high levels of institutional excitement from big names jumping aboard the crypto train. 

Venmo Adds Cryptocurrency Features to Platform

The peer-to-peer digital payments app Venmo has announced a crypto option that allows their 70 million users to buy, sell, or hold bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash. Having already rolled out this product, Venmo reported that 30% of their customers have already began purchasing cryptocurrency or equities, signaling an immense amount of interest in digital assets. 

In order to use this service and start their journey into crypto, users just have to click the “Crypto” button on the menu. They will then be able to buy their choice of the offered cryptocurrencies for as little as $1 at a time, using funds from their Venmo account or a linked bank or debit card. This level of wide scale availability has put cryptocurrencies at the fingertips of millions of users around the world, something the price of these currencies is bound to reflect over the coming months. 

The company, which is owned by global payments giant PayPal, will also be supplementing this new service with some in-app guides that aim to educate about the world of cryptocurrency. Senior vice president and general manager at Venmo Darrell Esch said that he hopes this initiative “demystifies some of the common questions and misconceptions that consumers may have”. PayPal had previously offered crypto services to its 29 million merchants. 

Cryptocurrency as a Form of Payment

In addition to digital apps expanding their crypto offerings, New York City based office sharing giant WeWork has announced that it will start accepting payments for services in select cryptocurrencies. Through the cryptocurrency payment service provider Bitpay, the company is set to accept Bitcoin, Ethereum, USD Coin, Paxos, and others in exchange for membership fees. WeWork will also be paying landlords and third party partners with crypto through Coinbase, further expanding their utility. 

The Chairman of WeWork and Softbank Group International CEO, Marcelo Claure spoke on the matter and said, “Cryptocurrency helps build a stronger global economy and WeWork’s announcement demonstrates the company’s commitment not only to innovation, but also to being a globally-focused business. WeWork’s ability to provide members with an additional convenient means of payment is hugely exciting”. 

Facebook-backed Digital Currency Set to Launch Soon

Also expected to launch later this year is Facebook’s much anticipated stable coin, Diem. Initially proposed back in 2019 as a token named libra, it was not long before scrutiny from regulators shut down Facebook’s digital asset ambitions. A couple of years later, the Diem project is ready to re-launch with support from Swiss regulators who will secure a payment license. 

The pilot is expected to launch using a phased approach, with a focus on transactions between individual customers, with each of the stable coins being pegged to a specific national currency as well as one multi-currency coin. Facebook’s wide reach of over 2.8 billion users worldwide is bound to revolutionize the world of cryptocurrency by providing unprecedented distribution for the product. 

More Companies Find Solutions in Blockchain Technology

Also exciting on the crypto horizon are the many companies finding the solutions for everyday problems in blockchain technology. For one, German telecom company Deutsche Telekom AG (which happens to operate T-Mobile) has invested in the blockchain payments platform Celo. The open-source blockchain ecosystem will allow users to bypass traditional financial firms and are accessible to anyone with a smartphone. The telecom provider is to operate infrastructure across the Celo ecosystem, and will also be opening up its SMS API call to allow validators on the blockchain to send verification text messages in order to bypass reliability issues. 

Deutsche Telekom also revealed that they had made what was only described as “a significant purchase” of Celo’s native asset CELO, but the company did not disclose the size of the purchase. 

Another venture into the blockchain world comes from video game company Ubisoft (the developers behind Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and others) that has adopted several blockchain gaming properties. Since 2018, the gaming giant has been making strides in the blockchain gaming industry; from launching a blockchain game called Hashcraft to partnering up with the next-generation games distributors Ultra and becoming the first major gaming company to join its blockchain ledger. Since then, Ubisoft’s adoption of blockchain technology has only grown as it has developed several blockchain games and most recently joined the Tezos ecosystem as a “baker” or, transaction validator on the Tezos blockchain. 

Despite the slight drawback in the price of bitcoin this week, the overall consensus on cryptocurrency appears to still be geared towards mainstream adoption. With more and more financial institutions, payment platforms, and global firms embracing crypto and blockchain technology, it appears as though crypto is at our fingertips, now more than ever. 

Institutional Tsunami