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2020 Global Challenges for Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency

2020 Global Challenges for Cryptocurrency

Blockchain, Bitcoin, and Cryptocurrency are some of the terms that you must have heard at some point in your life. Especially in the past decade or so, cryptocurrency became the talk of the global economic forums. As many authorities began to question the future of monetary assets, money, and similar resources, cryptocurrency was among the more controversial topics.

In 2019, right before Blockchain could have seen a public acceptance phase, the revolution came to an abrupt halt. According to the Gartner Group, it was called ‘Blockchain fatigue.’ Other experts also jumped on the bandwagon that the fire of Blockchain technology and virtual currency, in general, has fizzled out. People thought maybe it was a phase after all that overstayed its welcome.

Pragmatically, the perspective is incorrect. According to recent statistics, the crypto market has an estimated total market capitalization of over $155 billion as of 15th March 2020. Considering these numbers and based on many financial institutions, powers might tend to disapprove of cryptocurrency, but they are in favor of Blockchain technology. The disruptive nature of decentralized currencies such as Bitcoin and others has led to a corresponding halt to its progress.

Let’s find out what more challenges do cryptocurrency has to face as the year 2020 goes by.

Challenges Hindering Cryptocurrency Growth and Acceptance Worldwide

The following are the challenges hindering cryptocurrency growth and acceptance on a global scale.

1.  Boom Phase for Blockchain

There is no doubt about the fact that where cryptocurrency is facing the challenge of surviving and being accepted by the masses, Blockchain technology has already surpassed it. The masses have widely accepted it, and big names of global trade specialists are now moving towards Blockchain.

The likes of Trade Lens by IBM and Maersk’s joint Blockchain investment in the shipping industry have welcomed the first-ever initiative taken. Many such mind-blowing initiatives are underway that involve Blockchain apart from the cryptocurrency domain. The challenge for crypto-enthusiasts here is that once the Blockchain technology takes off without crypto, it will be the end to it.

2.  Bad Imagery

Cryptocurrency, even after having gone through a boom phase, still has a PR problem. The terms associated are enough to conjure up images of cringe advertisements, low-quality campaigns, bad actors, get rich quick schemes, and criminals alike. For many people, cryptocurrency spells out new technology for age-old scams and frauds, which they don’t want any.

It may seem like a petty issue, given the magnitude that is a cryptocurrency and the Blockchain industry. However, this issue has hindered crypto for years since its inception and will continue to do so if no knowledgeable individuals came forward in favor of it.

3.  Blockchain vs. Authorities and Officials

US constitution is known worldwide for its protection right given to the democratic entity that the country is. Freedom of speech, access to information, and the right to form an opinion is protected by the officials to be open. However, on the flip side, when it comes to assets and financial resources, our system laws, governments, and authorities are designed to keep it limited amongst the powerful.

It is evident why crypto and Blockchain has taken over a decade to adjust in an economy where it had to tackle issue arising from the core of how our economy and society operates.

a. Lack Of Legislation

Digital currencies are decentralized virtual entities. They are purely digital products, and our authorities are not geared to handle this advanced technology. That is why the lack of legislation regulating these digital currencies and providing any sort of user protection has become a huge challenge.

The essential step that needs to be taken to reduce the risk involves educating and informing people about keeping their personal data safe. There is still a gaping void where insurance and dedicated legislation needs to be placed. But until that happens, awareness to safely exercise crypto is crucial.

b. Legal Obstacles

In addition to lack of legislation, the other big obstacle that stands in the way of cryptocurrency holders like Bitcoin traders and users is the challenge to spend their holdings. The untraceable nature of Bitcoin and its bad imagery as a mode of finance for mega criminal activities like terrorist attacks and the drug trade has made it quite scandalous in some countries.

Cryptocurrency is going through a period of abrupt halt where nothing much seems to be happening around the technology. Therefore, one can’t say for sure that what the future holds unless wide acceptability affects these legal obstacles standing in the way of crypto-trading.

4.  The Technology Is Still Immature

Cryptocurrency faces implementation obstacles beyond the lack of regulation and inactive obligations. The technology is an emerging one and is still immature in a system where other options are widely scalable and accepted over it.

One might think how a technology that has been out there for over a decade now can be new and emerging. The reason is that not much has been done to expand it.

a. Interoperability

Interoperability or the ability of computer system software to exchange and utilize information is a challenge faced by Blockchain. The technology has been divided to make multiple uses of it in different industrial domains, separate form cryptocurrency.

The technology needs to be made interoperable for the internet dedicated to Blockchain and crypto exchange. Until then, as long as people continue to go by illegal and wrong means of mining it, the technology is a threat to the economic system that opens its gates to accept virtual currencies.

b. Usability

This point cannot be emphasized enough how difficult it is to buy and sell crypto. We are way in the year 2020, and it is still as difficult as it was back in the day when Bitcoin was first launched. The mere participation in the crypto world requires a nerve-wracking validation that general people find unappealing.

The security procedures are so complex that they have become hurdles in crypto adoption as a mode of exchange. Most students look for personal statement help UK who have a high interest in cryptocurrency markets but unable to compose a compelling profile.

It is still a significant challenge for the industry to create user-friendly processes for buying, selling, storing, and using cryptocurrency securely without being called out for it.

c. Scalability

The generally acceptable country-wise currency exchange and even the banking transactions in different currencies have been made scalable and adaptable to the different rates. Cryptocurrency has years of effort to go until it finally reaches a scalability level that Dollar, Yen, Pounds, or Rupee have gotten to.

While interoperability may be a huge step forward to achieve that, that itself is a challenge to mitigate first, the system is so slow, and many dominant platforms for smart contractual applications are still under development. The processes face numerous delays and would require many scalable solutions to counter this issue of exchange.

d. Data Rights

Data has reached a level of becoming a digital asset at this point. Digital mafia considers data the real deal and a key to all things penetrable for the immense value it can hold for individuals and organizations. That is why one of the biggest lose loop in cryptocurrency is and will always be data rights and privacy.

The solution here is not just government protection of privacy and data for cryptocurrency traders. A dedicated system is required where such identities can capture and control their own data. And where there is a long way to go for an efficient framework, many initiatives have been taken and underway.

e. Security

Blockchain might be immature, but it is so far advanced that it is more secure than a traditional computer system.

However, many financial breaches, data leaks, and huge losses due to the system vulnerabilities have made it challenging for people to be satisfied with their transactions. At one point in time, $250 million were lost in a single transaction through QuadrigaCX exchange due to its deadly centralized business model.

In addition to it being not secure enough, these pieces of news make rounds globally. People have lost faith in cryptocurrency over time.

2.  Difficulties Of Bitcoin Transactions

In 2013, a crypto-enthusiast made a luxury car dealership in Costa Mesa, CA, for a Tesla Model S and paid for it in Bitcoin. Just under 92 bitcoins that were worth over $100,000 at that time, the deal was sealed and legally conceived. Considering this transaction and comparing it with the real-time value of crypto right now, the setback and skepticism surrounding Bitcoin have not done much harm to the growing estimation of it.

However, one cannot move past the real-time losses that have occurred given the Bitcoin transactions over the years. Spending Bitcoin is still a huge deal than hoarding it.

a. Countries Banning Bitcoin

Countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Bolivia, and Ecuador have prohibited crypto transactions. The state bank has outlawed it and declared cryptocurrency an illegal form of payment with a heavy fine due to violators. And even where it is legal, there are countless logistical issues.

Even in the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission is having an ongoing debate if it prefers new regulations for the cryptocurrency market. If major countries with relevant economic forums stand against Bitcoin, it will become increasingly difficult for the crypto-type to gain acceptance from the masses as people continue to engage in it illegally.

b. Conversion Issues

Conversion remains a huge hurdle for Bitcoin vendors. As Bitcoin is not a fiat currency and is only limited to monetary value when converted to a cash equivalent, not many vendors go for its conversions for other cryptocurrency types. They are more willing to look for a payment method that delivers in Dollars or any other local currency. So that any exchange made for goods and products is made on consumer rates.

Such an implementation system is difficult even if bigger brands are willing to make it possible. No matter if a business sells cars or academic writing services, there is a lack of appropriate regulations to facilitate this type of exchange.

c. People Losing Money

Though Bitcoin regulatory protocol was not affected and not a single Bitcoin disappeared or got lost, people lost loads of money. The downfall and cases of transactional breakdowns are the major reason why cryptocurrency came to an unannounced halt in the first place.

There is a serious need to regulate and change the trading and mining protocols in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Only then can I expect the general public to safely indulge in Bitcoin mining and trading without feeling it to be illegal or a complete daredevil gambling moves on their part.

d. Volatility Of Prices

The volatility of prices also hangs in the balance of the potential of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general. Even though Bitcoin has gained significant community following over the years, there have been disputes among the community member for deciding the path it should take.

The compact user base has made the currency increasingly volatile. The stability expected concerning a centralized authority system to regulate it will increase once people start to accept it. The doubts about Bitcoin’s usage and the resistance by major countries to integrate the system and legalize it will continue to deteriorate the prices further.

Conclusion – The Stakes Are High

All in all, the results of no action being taken by major industrial giants, businesses, and government authorities have never been so altering ever since all these years of crypto trading and mining as it is now. The year 2020 is going to shape the cryptocurrency industry either for better or for worse.

Crypto networks like Bitcoin, corporations like Facebook, and nations like China implementing digital currency by the end of this year will be taking a step towards stumping Dollar as the record currency. It will, in turn, lead to the US Federal Reserve pushing ahead of the digital counterpart.

There is no denying that the stakes are high, and just like everything else, the future is unpredictable for cryptocurrency too.

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Claudia Jeffrey is currently working as a Junior Finance advisor at Crowd Writer, an excellent platform to get assignment help UK. She is a self-proclaimed crypto-influencer. She has gained significant expertise and knowledge in this regard over the years and likes to share it with an interested audience.

cashless

TOWARD A GLOBAL CASHLESS ECONOMY

Going Cashless During COVID-19

When we originally published this article in November 2018 during holiday shopping season, we could not have foreseen that a global health crisis would accelerate cashless payments worldwide. But new precautions in place due to COVID-19 have propelled us faster in the direction of contactless transactions everywhere.

Transmission of the disease from handling banknotes has consumers concerned, but the risk is reported to be low compared with touching credit card terminals and PIN pads. Yet the plexiglass that divides customer from cashier urges less reliance on bills and coins in favor of using point of sale machines to swipe your credit card.

Central banks around the world are taking steps to quarantine and sterilize banknotes to promote retained trust and universal acceptance of cash. Even so, many financial industry analysts are predicting that truly contactless payments through mobile e-wallets may be upon us sooner than previously forecast as consumers and retailers become more accustomed to eschewing cash.

Mobile Payments are the Future

According to Statista, 259 million Americans routinely bought products online in 2018.

That wasn’t the case just a few years ago when many of us were hesitant to punch in our credit card numbers to a website. But as ever more business is transacted online, financial services and “fintech” companies have built and continue to improve a secure payments ecosystem that consumers and businesses can be confident will protect their most vital assets: their private information and money.

Pretty soon we might not need to pull out a physical card as our credit card information gets linked with mobile payment systems. All you need is your finger, your phone, or a watch – items you probably already have on hand, literally. As more consumers adopt this convenience, “e-wallets” will eventually replace cash altogether.

The United States and Emerging Markets Lead

Mobile payments in the United States, China, Russia and India are driving the global trend – the United States by sheer volume of cashless transactions and the big emerging markets by virtue of how fast they are growing. In 2017, non-cash transactions grew 34.6 percent in China, 38.5 percent in Russia, and 38.5 percent in India.

Russia’s surge owes to the Central Bank of Russia’s implementation of a National Payment Card System that boosted growth of cashless transactions by 36.5 percent after it was introduced in 2015-2016. AliPay and WeChat Pay are keeping China on a sustained upward trajectory. Mobile payments in China climbed from $2 trillion in 2015 to $15.4 trillion in 2017, an amount greater than the combined total of the global transactions processed by Visa and Mastercard. India has improved its regulatory environment for digital payments as smartphone penetration expands.

TradeVistas | growth of global cashless transactions, World Payments Report 2019

Growth of global cashless transactions

Leapfrogging in Developing Countries

According to the 2019 World Payments Report, developing markets as a group contributed 35 percent of all non-cash transactions in 2017 and are close to reaching half of all non-cash transactions if they maintain the current rate.

Financial inclusion initiatives in developing countries that are designed to pull citizens into the formal banking system combined with an increase of mobile phone ownership means developing countries are leapfrogging over credit card use, going from cash to mobile payments.

Remittances, which comprise a high percentage of GDP in many developing countries, are being facilitated increasingly through person-to-person mobile money transfers. In one example, Western Union and Safaricom, a mobile provider in Kenya, have teamed to enable 28 million mobile wallet holders to send money to family and others over Western Union’s global network.

The Global Mobile Industry Association predicts the number of smartphones in use in sub-Saharan Africa will nearly double by 2025, enabling previously “unbanked” individuals to send and receive money by phone. For merchants in developing countries, scanning a QR code on a phone is faster and cheaper than installing point-of-service terminals that require a continuous electrical supply for reliability.

TradeVistas | cashless transaction volumes grew 12% during 2016 and 2017

Developing countries will account for half of cashless transactions soon.

Mobile People with Mobile Phones

Chinese tourists are also driving global proliferation of mobile payments as vendors work to accommodate Chinese travelers in airports, restaurants, hotels, and stores. China’s Alipay advertised popular “outbound destinations without wallets” for Golden Week, when millions of Chinese go on vacation. Last year, prior to travel restrictions, there was a boom in Chinese tourists to Japan, with over 9.5 million visitors in 2019. China’s WeChat Pay teamed with Line, Japan’s popular messaging app service to offer mobile payments to Japanese retailers seeking to accommodate the influx of Chinese tourists. WeChat’s rival, Alipay, is also partnering to extend services in Japan.

Global Standards and Interoperability are Needed

Through national financial inclusion programs, a steep increase in the accessibility of mobile phones, and with trade driving more global business transactions online, a cashless global economy could be in our future.

What’s standing in the way of faster integration globally of mobile payments, however, is a lack of international standards and common approaches to security, data privacy, and prevention of cybercrimes.

Companies in this space are continually evolving layers of protections such as the chips on your credit cards, encryption, tokens, and biometrics to stay ahead of cybercriminals, but it’s a constant battle against fraud and hacking of personal account information. For example, tokenization is a technology that safeguards bank details in mobile payment apps. That’s how Apple Pay works – rather than directly using your credit card details, your bank or credit card network generates random numbers that Apple programs into your phone, masking valuable information from hackers.

Differing national regulatory approaches to data authorization and distributed ledger technology (like blockchain) could fragment markets and inhibit adoption of the underlying technologies that permit mobile payments. Industry groups say international standards should be modernized to reflect technological innovations, but also harmonized to avoid developing different payments systems for different markets.

Interoperability is then the cornerstone of expanding trade through global digital payments. Groups like the PCI Security Standards Council advocate for international cooperation not only to set standards for ease of consumer use but because no single private company or government can stay continually ahead of hackers. They say that sharing information and best practices can raise everyone’s game, prevent attacks, and disseminate alerts quickly to stop the spread of damage when an attack occurs.

Mobile Payments Slim My Wallet in More Ways Than One

By 2023, there will be three times as many connected devices in the world as there are people on Earth. (And that prediction was made pre-pandemic.) Young people with new spending power are favorably disposed to cashless transactions and shopping through their devices. Mobile payments help connect poorer and rural citizens to the formal economy just through SMS texts. Even tourism is spreading a culture of mobile payments. And many brick and mortar retailers say online browsing can drive in-store sales and help the bottom line.

Small businesses are making great use of mobile payment readers to take payments anywhere on the go, from selling jam at farmers markets to selling band t-shirts at small music venues. Business executives surveyed in the World Payments Report also cite increasing use of such rapid transfer payments to speed the settlement of business-to-business invoices and for supply chain financing, particularly across borders.

Experts are realistic, however, that cash isn’t dead yet. In most countries, cash payments as a share of total payment volume is declining, but cash in circulation is stable or rising – and that seems to be holding true despite the pandemic.

For a little while anyway, I conserved both cash and mobile spending during the pandemic. I’m back to routinely overspending at Starbucks where my thumb is all it takes to reload the card on the app using a preloaded credit card. If my behavior is any indication, the ease of mobile payments will probably cause many of us to spend more as the cash doesn’t have to physically leave the grip of our hands. The increase in availability and accessibility of cashless, mobile payments will be good for economic recovery and good for global trade.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.
payments

The Chicken or the Egg: Should You Automate P2P or Payments First?

I’ve been in the P2P/payment space for over 15 years. Before that, I spent a bunch of years selling payroll automation. Payroll automation achieved mass adoption relatively quickly—few companies today pay employees manually.

I figured—wrongly—that procure-to-pay was the next green field for back office technology. Just as every company has to pay its employees, every company also has to pay its suppliers. Manual processing for both payroll and supplier payments is expensive, inefficient, and non-scalable. Technology for procurement and invoice handling seemed on the verge of breaking through, similarly to payroll technology back in the day.

I wasn’t alone in thinking that. In 2005, the company I worked for brought in an analyst in the space to address our sales team about industry trends. He told us that invoice processing would be paperless by 2010. We’ve come a long way, but here in late 2019, far too many companies still deal with paper invoices and manual processes. Supplier payment automation can help change that—here’s how.

Not Just the Novelty

When I first started selling P2P solutions, the primary challenge I faced was a lack of awareness—most organizations didn’t know there was a better way to process invoices. Standard operating procedure was to hire a bunch of people to review invoices, manually enter them into the financial system, and get them paid. More invoices? Hire more people—just as it had been with payroll.

Some companies hired “Black Belts” to make changes to their processes by creating shared service centers or, in some cases, outsourcing the entire department to a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company. That had its own issues—namely lack of control and timing gaps, since many of these BPOs sat halfway across the globe.

As time went on, P2P solution providers became more widely known, and a growing number of companies adopted these solutions in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency by getting visibility into spend and putting more controls on how employees purchased goods or approved invoices.

Clearly that real challenge wasn’t lack of awareness. It was getting the project to the top of the list in a given company. Without a doubt, P2P solutions can drive positive ROI, but so can many other initiatives. Implementation of these types of projects can be lengthy, and eat up time and resources in procurement, finance and IT.

Based on my experience, for organizations with annual revenues greater than $500m, a typical P2P project can come with one-time implementation fees north of $250k (or more with the addition professional services) and implementation timeframes of nine months to a year or more. That’s a pretty big chunk of change for ROI that may take another year or so to manifest. As a result, these projects get pushed aside in favor of initiatives that generate revenue relatively quickly.

That was the case with countless companies I called on—they saw the value but still couldn’t get it done. Selling the ROI for P2P solutions was far more challenging than doing the same for payroll solutions. It was frustrating as hell.

The lightbulb clicked on for me in 2013 while attending an IOFM show in Orlando. Across the aisle from our booth was a company I’d never heard of: Nvoicepay. Thinking they were a competitor, I ventured over to see if I could gather some intelligence on them.

They weren’t a competitor at all. They didn’t match invoices to POs or automate the approval workflow for posting invoices to a financial system. They were a payment company that simplified supplier payments by any method—check, ACH or card—through a single interface. Plus, their solution complemented my invoice automation solution, and the increased efficiency and card rebates would significantly increase the ROI for my customer and help get the project to the top of their list! Now we could actually offer customer a procure-to-pay, solution, not just procure-to-ost.

Fast forward to 2019: I’m now working for Nvoicepay. Companies still want to automate their procure-to-pay processes, and still can’t figure out how to get the project onto the go list. Although P2P technology has improved significantly, those projects are still relatively lengthy and require resources—and therefore buy-in—from procurement, finance and IT.

Nvoicepay implementation is fast—we’re talking weeks, not months or years, to go live like a P2P project. We also require very few IT resources during the implementation, which doesn’t require the level of integration a P2P solution does. Quite frankly, when you send us a remittance file, we’ll pay 100% of your vendors regardless of payment type. Additionally, because we collect banking info from your vendors, we indemnify all payments and guarantee that funds will get to the appropriate supplier/vendor. You get a ton of process efficiencies, and the ROI starts on the first day a customer goes live, with monthly rebates generated from virtual card payments.

There’s still a conundrum. Companies want P2P but can’t figure out how to get there, and they’re not sure what to do first. Do we automate P2P and then finish it off by automating payments, or do we flip the scenario around? As companies trying to discern which should come first, I firmly believe that many companies may not fully understand what an enterprise payment platform can bring to the table and how the ROI it drives can fund their P2P project.

What I’ve Seen in 15+ Years in the P2P Space

Swinerton is a $3.6b construction company that implemented Nvoicepay’s Payment Gateway in a manner of weeks for just a few thousand dollars. They quickly started seeing monthly rebates via payments processed on virtual cards add up to $1m in the first year. Their finance department saw huge process efficiencies in their first year, and actually generated better relations with their vendors and contractors. Swinerton planned on leveraging the annual rebates to fund a T&E solution that they wanted to implement. The only thing they wished they did differently was to not take so long to decide on automation.

So, what should come first, the chicken or the egg? If egg = payments, then I say egg—and not because of the side of the aisle I sit on. I say this for my investment over the past 15+ years in the space with a desire to help our customers achieve their P2P goals and operate more profitably. Additionally, it is why most if not all P2P (procure-to-post) providers are trying to figure out how to automate payments!

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Jim Wright is the Vice President of Enterprise Sales in the East Region at Nvoicepay. He is a veteran of the financial industry, having served in senior roles at companies like Zycus, Corcentric, and SAP Ariba. With Nvoicepay, he delivers scalable payment solutions to enterprise companies and other large organizations.