Have you heard the news? Cryptocurrency is becoming mainstream.
There’s no doubt about it. All the signs point to the fact that cryptocurrency will be adopted by big businesses, with well-known payment processors such as PayPal and Shopify now accepting cryptocurrency payments. Other large companies are following suit, including Microsoft, AT&T, Starbucks, etc.
The convenience and security of crypto-based payments make it a no-brainer for everyone involved – businesses, consumers, and banks, which explains why demand for crypto services is growing. The cryptocurrency market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 13.8% to reach $2.73 billion by 2025.
In 2022, it is expected that more than 300 million people will use or hold cryptocurrency, representing almost 4% of the global population and this figure is set to increase further in coming years.
With this in mind, it’s not surprising that people are looking for more convenient ways to use cryptocurrency in their day-to-day lives.
At EFTLAB, we help banks and financial institutions who are beginning to catch on to this shift in the economy, by providing digital payment processing solutions. Over the past couple of years we have identified some obstacles that stand in the way of banks offering crypto payments.
In this article, we will explore the main four roadblocks and how to overcome them.
The first roadblock on our list is the misconception that cryptocurrency is not legitimate and that it is “just a trend” and may not stick around.
The truth is very different. All the signs suggest that Millenials and Gen Z (who slowly become banks’ main clientele segment) are more than happy to use cryptocurrency payments and are enthusiastic about the opportunities the new crypto economy presents, including investing for retirement. – source
Financial institutions and banks can easily prosper in this exciting new age of crypto banking. In order to do so, the relevant stakeholders need to increase their knowledge of the technology and the basic mechanics of blockchain-based payments. It is down to the banks and financial institutions themselves to educate their own employees and customers. Knowledge is power and can drive a more confident outlook towards this new currency system.
For instance, a bank can encourage and convince members of their C-suite by giving them some cryptocurrency funds to hold and spend, thus giving them some first-hand experience of using it, which takes cryptocurrency from theory to practice.
Stakeholders also need to be made aware of the considerable benefits of using cryptocurrency, balanced with highlighting some of the risks and challenges.
When it comes to banking and financial services, complying with regulation is always a considerable obstacle to overcome. One of the main problems is that cryptocurrency is still in its infancy, so the regulation differs from country to country. Some countries have highly restrictive requirements regarding anti-money laundering and reporting, especially when it comes to handling cryptocurrency.
One of the main problems is perception. Regulators still view cryptocurrency with a certain amount of suspicion, with some thinking that it is illegitimate and too difficult to handle. However, as crypto is becoming more mainstream and governing bodies are seeing that it isn’t going away any time soon, regulation is becoming more realistic and easier to comply with.
For example, in the USA, banking regulators are taking steps to clarify cryptocurrency regulation in 2022. Other countries are exploring the possibility of creating their own central banks to manage cryptocurrency, such as the Bank of England’s plans to create a central bank for digital currency known as a CBDC. China, India, and several of the Caribbean islands are already trialing CBDCs to manage national cryptocurrency.
We suggest that banks and financial institutions that are looking to get ahead of the curve, but don’t want to fall foul of national and international regulation, begin slowly. For example – businesses can choose to cap crypto transactions at a reasonable amount (not too high) and to only allow crypto payments that are linked to credit or debit cards which are more difficult to use for money laundering.
Many banks and financial institutions (especially the bigger, more monolithic ones) rely on payment systems that are well out of date by now. In fact, many were set up back in the 1980’s and don’t have the infrastructure to support crypto transactions. In order to enable crypto capabilities, the legacy systems will need to be overhauled very quickly to keep up with the market – an exercise that can prove to be expensive and maybe even impractical.
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to legacy systems as there is a viable alternative to staging a complete overhaul. With solutions such as EFTLAB’s BP-Node or BP-Bridge , any bank can easily bridge the technical limitations or replace them entirely. They offer future-proof ways to set up all the protocols and process any type of payment, not just crypto.
Our suite of blockchain and cryptocurrency-enabling modules known as BP-Crypto, was built on top of these solutions and can help to alleviate some of the associated concerns. BP-Crypto allows financial institutions to accept and process crypto-based payments by powering blockchain requests. The various modules make it easy for customers to register and authenticate cryptocurrency wallets, approve transactions, and request and receive digital payment cards.
The most used cryptocurrencies around the world right now are Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), which are inherently volatile. The frequent fluctuations in the trading price of these cryptocurrency coins are off-putting for many banks and customers.
Fortunately, there are some clever technological and strategic workarounds emerging that can be used to reduce trade volatility and solve the locality issue.
As well as customer education on how to handle price swings and making sure they are fully informed of the risks and alternatives, there are also newer cryptocurrencies, known as stablecoins which are tethered to fiat (real-world) currency. For instance, USDC and USDT or FRAX finance stablecoins are linked to the US dollar with each coin equivalent to $1 and apply different methods to stabilize the coins.
The downside of only offering USD-pegged stablecoins payments is that it restricts users outside of the USA to trading through FX (similar to Forex). However, there has been some positive progress lately. New types of stablecoin are being pioneered that reduce volatility even further, such as the multi-currency stablecoin Blindex platform. As mentioned earlier, some countries are also creating their own cryptocurrency that will be managed through central banks, such as the Indian CBDC stablecoin that is linked to the Rupee.
It’s only a matter of time before volatility and locality become less of an issue and in the meantime, the problem can be solved by applying various integrations and transaction-payment strategies.
Like it or not, cryptocurrency is here to stay. The only real question is – how will banks and financial institutions get on board and start meeting customer demand?
Managing cryptocurrency payments can seem like a big, frightening challenge for bank managers and owners of other financial institutions, which can lead to skepticism.
However, there are plenty of new developments and technological solutions that can help businesses make the transition smoothly.
The key to success in adopting cryptocurrency payments is to take baby steps rather than a giant leap of faith. Here at EFTLAB, we can help you to develop a strategy and implement the tech solutions you need to make it work.