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Is 2022 the Year Crypto Payments Become Mainstream?

Visa’s head of crypto revealed last year that the payments giant partnered with about 60 leading crypto platforms to launch programs that make it easy for consumers to convert and spend digital currency at millions of merchant locations worldwide.

At the same time, payments apps and mobile wallets are more popular than ever with 86 per cent of consumers saying they’ve used a payments app in the last year. Additionally, 67 per cent of those who own crypto say they would consider using it for purchases if it were linked to a mobile wallet.

With these recent developments in the crypto space and the rise of crypto popularity in general, many are wondering if 2022 be the year crypto payments become mainstream? The ever-increasing popularity of payments apps could pave the way for consumers to start paying with crypto.

Brent
Brent Johnson, CISO at Bluefin

In light of this, Brent Johnson, CISO at payment and data security company Bluefin, here discusses the rise of mobile wallets and payments apps, and how they may look to add crypto in the near future to stay competitive.

 

What does the crypto landscape look like in 2022?
The number of merchants accepting crypto payments continues to increase at a rapid pace.   While the younger generation appears more comfortable using crypto, its adoption shows no signs of slowing down. Visa reported $2.5billion worth of transactions using crypto-linked cards in the first fiscal quarter of 2022, and while this is still using traditional payment card technology on the front end, it demonstrates consumers are becoming more comfortable with concepts such as converting crypto to fiat and receiving crypto rewards.

What do Visa’s expanded crypto partnerships mean for the future of crypto payments?

While current Visa partnerships are occurring on the backend/settlement side of Visa’s business, it’s definitely a signal that Visa recognises there are advances occurring within the payment ecosystem. Visa is likely already observing the benefits of rapidly transferring digital stable coins like USDC as opposed to slower traditional means such as ACH transactions. As blockchains continue to evolve and become faster, more scalable, and with increased security, it’s hard to imagine payments companies won’t embrace it.

How will mobile wallets and payments apps look to implement crypto in the future? What barriers exist to this happening?

Mobile wallets already accept crypto-linked branded cards (generally prepaid debit cards). The larger question is the number of merchants who start accepting actual crypto payments (not linked cards, which have already converted the money to fiat on the backend through a person’s crypto or bank account). We’re already seeing services allowing merchants to accept actual crypto payments (several different coin/token options), which will quickly convert that crypto to a stable coin for the merchant, allowing the merchant to avoid the volatility concerns in the crypto’s value. These services may also allow the merchant to retain the payment in its native crypto if desired.

Crypto stable coins and general regulation around crypto are still being developed, which is likely a concern for merchants depending on the nation they reside in. Other concerns are how chargeback will be handled, and also the speed of the transaction for the consumer (although newer blockchains are solving this problem).

What security risks associated with crypto payments exist today?

We’ve already seen several hacks within different crypto ecosystems. As a general rule, crypto payments are very secure, and hacks are rarely related to an issue with the technology itself. However, the consumer losing access to their wallet/private keys associated with their private wallet, or their account housing their custodial wallet they keep on an exchange, can lead to getting hacked. Consumers must ensure strong passwords, biometrics and/or multi-factor authentication are set up in order to use their mobile wallets. Most importantly, consumers need to save their seed phrases offline in a very secure location (these allow wallets to be reconstructed if a user loses access to their wallet).

With more cryptocurrencies becoming available, what are your predictions for the areas or industries where crypto payments have the highest potential to go mainstream?

Decentralized Finance, Gaming (play-to-earn games) and NFT spaces are all seeing explosive growth at the moment and are all heavily crypto-related. These industries are poised for continued growth in crypto usage.

Author

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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