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The challenges of this mass market segment shine light on the areas where the financial services industry is truly broken. So-called crypto rails like the Ripple network allow currencies and payments to flow cheaply, rapidly and smoothly as information on the internet. Platforms like Ripple and other cryptocurrency features can benefit everyday people in four primary areas: The typically lower-income people who send money to friends and relatives in their home countries pay 8.
Crypto rails can help provide relief from such costly fees. Numerous digital currency startups already make it easier to buy Bitcoin with cash Local Bitcoins , ZipZap , a phone number Blossom or credit and debit cards Circle. But the numerous steps involved in the process, a lack of trust in the system and limited ways to buy Bitcoin with cash inhibit people from using Bitcoin to save on remittance fees.
Ripple Labs and BitPesa among others, are striving to address these problems. BitPesa is a new remittance service to Kenya that leverages Bitcoin to reduce the cost and time of money transfers.
The Ripple protocol is a distributed exchange network that allows exchanges between any fiat currency as well digital currencies like bitcoins and ripples. Using this protocol, users in the U. Emerging middle class consumers can also benefit from the liquidity and speed offered by crypto rails. Crypto rails enable these consumers to receive funds sent by peers, employers, or lenders in a digital wallet in minutes or seconds.
Users can also use their digital wallets to pay bills or send money to family members at a rapid speed and minimal cost. Meanwhile, companies like Xapo are developing bitcoin- and ripple-based debit cards that will allow customers to use existing point-of-sale merchant infrastructure to make digital currency payments offline.
Customers who prefer to use cash can load money onto digital wallets at thousands of participating merchant locations thanks to ZipZap. The company's cash-loadable digital wallets helps people who lack easy access to traditional banks to accumulate savings, perform cross-border payments, send money transfers and make online payments. Finally, crytpocurrencies will eventually help creditworthy but overlooked customers to gain access to affordable loans.
Customers who regularly pay bills through alternative channels can struggle to establish credit history. Just as analytics companies like InVenture , Cignifi and First Access use consumers' mobile payment history to evaluate creditworthiness of unbanked people in emerging markets, underwriters will soon be able to evaluate public wallet addresses for insight into cash-flow and bill payment history. The cryptocurrency ecosystem is steadily maturing.
Bitcoin is evolving from a speculative asset to a medium of exchange, while mainstream companies are starting to build essential infrastructure to support digital currencies. But we have a long way to go before cryptocurrency powers everyday transactions for most Americans.
By building solutions for the emerging middle class, entrepreneurs will use cryptocurrency for good and accelerate widespread adoption of these powerful tools. And that will benefit all of us. Arjan Schutte is the founder of and a managing partner at Core Innovation Capital, a venture capital firm targeting financial technology companies for the emerging middle class.
He is based in Los Angeles. Partner Insights Sponsor Content From: Comment Start the Conversation, Login. Like what you see? Make sure you're getting it all Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the banking industry.