Bitcoin remains mysterious, even after more than six years as an open source online currency. Its value peaked in 2013 — when it also inspired the memeplex that is Dogecoin — and its creator was unveiled as much as an anonymous person or group can be unveiled. Users mine bitcoin by allowing their computers to run complex algorithms and software, in a way being paid rent for use of their CPU resources. There are a bunch of companies that accept bitcoin payments. The idea has inspired countless episodes of America’s favorite “eccentric geniuses commit or solve really weird crimes” television and even more mainstream shows like the Good Wife. One part of bitcoin’s appeal is that it can be anonymous. But another large part is that it’s instantaneous and free to exchange bitcoin funds, and there are at least 10 bitcoin alternatives to send money without large fees.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) briefly flirted with the peer-to-peer payment market before shutting down its Amazon WebPay service in 2014 and may be exploring an alternative to catch up with the competition, such as PayPal, which has been one of the oldest players not just in the peer-to-peer transactions but business-to-consumer as well. Meanwhile, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is challenging Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL) and Square Inc (NYSE:SQ) by expanding its Pay With Amazon function to third-party mobile apps.
Earlier this year, PayPal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL) became an independent, publicly-traded company following the spin-off from eBay, and has recently acquired Xoom, another digital money transfer company that has increased PayPal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL)’s exposure with the addition of around 1.30 million customers from more than 30 countries.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s Apple Pay wants to be yours and everyone’s first choice in secure payments, but, so far, it has not entered the person-to-person transfer market. As recently as mid November, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is in talks to build its own Venmo-like money transfer service. In the meantime, some third-party apps use Apple Pay’s robust and secure framework to offer payment services. Whatever the future of the transfer market, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has the resources and the capabilities to become one of the leaders in the peer-to-peer transactions.
It’s not surprising that these companies are focusing on business-to-consumer segment first, since with the growth of eCommerce, the mobile payments are expected to grow to $1.0 trillion in 2017, compared to around $500 billion this year, according to an IDC report. Nevertheless, the growth of the popularity of digital transactions should also boost the volume for peer-to-peer transfers and the current players in the mobile and digital payments are the most likely to benefit from it.