Cryptocurrency holders often talk about striving towards mainstream adoption, but only recently has this vision come into sharp focus. After months of fervent speculation, PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) has confirmed support for virtual currencies, with users able to “spend” bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum and litecoin at the firm’s 26 million merchants. These online merchants will receive fiat, with PayPal handling the crypto-to-cash conversion during the settlement process; but for all intents and purposes, crypto has taken a major step towards mainstream territory. Especially given that the California-based company is expanding the service to Venmo by early 2021.
A Universal Bridge Between Crypto and Fiat
While PayPal is easily the most recognizable payments company to have boarded the bandwagon, it’s far from the only one. Indeed, other fintech firms have paved the way for the giant’s belated entrance into the space, building users, validating consumer demand and onboarding retailers.
MobiePay is just one example. A universal payment and blockchain-based rewards ecosystem that connects fiat and cryptocurrencies to the global retail marketplace, the firm launched two years ago with the goal of overhauling a “decades-old system built around plastic cards.”
Like ApplePay and GooglePay, MobiePay’s value proposition is built around frictionless payment: tap-to-pay, only with integrated support for cryptocurrency. With a smartphone, users can purchase products and services using crypto, and earn cashback and loyalty rewards in the process. They can also send fiat and digital currencies anywhere with a few taps of the touchscreen. The startup’s leadership team includes executives from major financial institutions including Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and JP Morgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM).
MobiePay Teams Up with Orion Protocol
MobiePay recently added support for the native token of Orion Protocol (ORN), a decentralized finance platform that aggregates liquidity in the crypto market. ORN joins other supported currencies such as bitcoin (BTC), stellar (XLM), MobieCoin (MBX), and Lightning Network (LN), the latter the second-layer Bitcoin scaling solution that enables faster and cheaper crypto transactions. The company is also in the process of integrating ETH, the second best-known cryptocurrency after bitcoin, plus as many as 150 fiat currencies.
“Integrating with Orion Protocol makes perfect sense for the Mobie ecosystem and our in-app exchange,” reflected MobiePay CEO Brandon Burguson after the deal was struck.
“With Orion Protocol’s access to multiple exchanges’ liquidity in one place, it enables a seamless liquidation process with tight spreads and low slippage. These benefits will apply to many sales and conversions of assets in the Mobie ecosystem. Furthermore, this integration has the potential to allow Mobie to pass those savings on spreads to its consumers.”
The latter point is worth stressing: because MobiePay will tap into Orion’s Liquidity Boost Plugin, its in-app currency exchange will benefit from cross-exchange limitless liquidity and tight spreads on all spendable currencies. The result? More bang for the customers’ buck (or bitcoin) and, because retailers swerve the risk of credit card disputes and chargeback fraud, improved margins on their end too. In theory, this should lead to more competitive pricing of products and services.
ORN, which confers benefits such as discounted trading, advanced features, protocol access, and staking returns, can be spent, online or in-person, at 225,000 POS systems in 500+ global retailers with whom MobiePay has integrated.
Banking the Unbanked
Between MobiePay, PayPal, Cash App, Robinhood, and countless cryptocurrency Visa debit cards issued by exchange platforms and neobanks like Revolut and Wirex, bridges between traditional and virtual currencies are continually being built. A few short years ago, the idea that users throughout the world could send, spend, receive and exchange digital assets using their smartphone in millions of physical locations would seem far-fetched, but here we are.
Alongside “mainstream adoption,” another popular watchword that percolates the crypto space is “banking the unbanked.” In other words, onboarding the 1.7 billion unbanked adults by opening up access to financial services to underserved communities. This is only likely to be achieved when handling currency, be it virtual or fiat, is as frictionless as using cash.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Stellar Development Foundation – which oversees the Protocol upon which MobiePay is built – counts banking the unbanked as its principal objective. The decentralized finance ecosystem, of which Orion Protocol is a part, shares the same lofty goal and has seen $11 billion worth of cryptocurrency locked in its various lending, staking and savings protocols.
Bitcoin started out as peer-to-peer digital cash, before evolving into “digital gold.” Now, thanks to the efforts of payment processors such as MobiePay and PayPal, crypto has returned to its original use case. Only now, it’s a lot easier to spend.