Blockchain and Crypto, Member Exclusive

Bankchain Briefing: ‘We’re thrilled to dispel the myth that crypto is just for men’ – SDF’s Denelle Dixon

  • This week, we examine research that shows the growing awareness, ownership, and use of crypto for cross-border payments.
  • We also look at the beta version of Coinbase’s long-awaited NFT marketplace.

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Bankchain Briefing: ‘We’re thrilled to dispel the myth that crypto is just for men’ – SDF’s Denelle Dixon

Although the crypto market has been turbulent for the last several months, that doesn’t seem to have deterred its growing adoption.

A recent report published by crypto payments firm Wirex and the Stellar Development Foundation shows the growing awareness, ownership, and use of crypto for cross-border payments in the US, UK, Mexico, and Singapore.

The survey results – compiled from nearly 10,000 consumers across these four countries – show that crypto awareness and ownership continues to grow, with 81% of respondents saying they are aware of cryptocurrencies, and 39% saying they currently own or have owned crypto at some point.

Source: SDF/Wirex

The research also demonstrates the growing use of crypto for international remittances, particularly in emerging markets. Over half of respondents (52%) see crypto as a valid alternative to sending money overseas using traditional methods, and 45% have already used crypto to send money to another country.

Driving the shift towards crypto as a cross-border payment method is frustration with existing systems, with 53% of people surveyed feeling they paid too much in fees for international remittances using traditional means, and 37% not knowing how much they paid at all.

Source: SDF/Wirex

Women’s attitudes towards crypto are also becoming more positive. Almost half (45%) of women surveyed, and 59% of men, see crypto as a viable way of sending money overseas.

While the vast majority of respondents have at least heard of cryptocurrencies, many still don’t own or use them, citing fears of volatility (63%) and security risk (55%), as well as the fact that a lot of people think they are too complicated.

I wanted to get a deeper insight into what the findings of the report tell us about crypto adoption – so I asked Denelle Dixon, CEO and executive director at SDF, and Pavel Matveev, co-founder and CEO of Wirex, to share with me their biggest takeaways from the report.

Here’s what they had to say.

Denelle Dixon, CEO and executive director at SDF

The results of the report confirm what we’ve seen in terms of growing real-world use cases for blockchain and cryptocurrency in emerging markets on the Stellar network. Consumers are adopting these new ways of sending money cross-border as a faster, cheaper alternative to traditional banking rails.

That’s what we’re working on at the Stellar Development Foundation — our ecosystem partners give people in emerging markets the ability to use USDC, and convert it to cash locally, giving a new segment of users access to fast and affordable digital asset services that were previously out of reach. 

And this report reaffirms that consumers want to see these kinds of solutions and are getting more comfortable with the value that crypto and blockchain can bring to their lives.

The other result that I’m ecstatic to see is the level of crypto adoption by women, with 32% of the general group surveyed having owned crypto. We know that when women have financial access, the positive ripple effects can be powerful not only for those women, but also for their families, communities, and countries.

So, the fact that more and more women are finding crypto to be a viable alternative to traditional money transfers could ultimately have meaningful benefits when sending money cross-border, and for improving financial access overall. We’re thrilled to dispel the myth that crypto is just for men.

I believe that 2022 will be the year where focus is put on the user, whether they’re native or new to crypto. We’ll see a concerted focus on meeting users’ needs. As a result, it will be less about the technology and more about using it to solve real problems. Applications will be built with a focus on simplicity, ease of use and in-context education. Because of this, we’ll see growth in all directions – better UI, more bright minds joining the industry, smarter policymaking – all leading to more adoption and mainstream use cases.

Pavel Matveev, co-founder and CEO of Wirex

We’ve seen a huge increase in crypto awareness over the past year, even amongst those who have never used it before. It seems that today nearly everyone has heard about crypto in some capacity, which is a big step forward. It also helps contradict the idea that crypto is a niche interest reserved for a certain, narrow demographic. More people than ever are using crypto and getting involved in the space, which shows mass adoption is on the horizon. 

The report shows that there’s now only a 16% difference in crypto ownership rates between men and women, which suggests that the long-held stereotype of crypto being only for young males is officially outdated. This may in part be due to crypto becoming more accessible, and could also be the result of female-led initiatives in the space, such as Wirex’s Women in Crypto campaign, which celebrates the incredible things that women are doing in the crypto sector, and aims to inspire others to get involved.

Additionally, with nearly half of the general population surveyed saying they’ve used crypto to make an overseas payment, this shows that the wider use cases of crypto are gradually becoming more well-known. Awareness and uptake will likely continue to grow as people look for alternative remittance and transaction methods against the rising cost of living in many countries.

While awareness is a key component, it’s important that we don’t ignore the other factors that can put people off from getting involved in the space. Our findings show that there are still people concerned about risk and security, so it’s vital that crypto companies continue to place an emphasis on different options and features that mitigate risk and enhance security.

The report has given us insight into where crypto has the potential to make the biggest impact, and what needs to be addressed in order to get more people involved. Although those surveyed in Mexico had the lowest rate of crypto ownership, they more strongly believed that the digital economy was a viable alternative to the traditional economy. This shows there may be a link between the socioeconomic development of a country and their attitude towards cryptocurrency.

One of the key principles behind crypto is to give financial freedom to all, and it’s important to keep this in mind as technology and new use cases develop to ensure everyone has the ability to access what crypto can offer. 

This is only the beginning, and reports like this one are invaluable as we continue to evolve the space to be able to offer the different benefits of crypto to mainstream audiences.

Coinbase NFT marketplace goes live — can it rival OpenSea?

CoinDesk reports that crypto exchange Coinbase launched the beta version of its long-awaited NFT marketplace last week, allowing a small group of users from a waitlist of 3 million to use the platform for the first time.

The marketplace, which was first announced last October, will support Ethereum-based NFT trading, with a social media spin that could distinguish it from competitors.

The platform will allow users to showcase their personal profile and follow accounts whose content will appear in a “For You” feed, which is visually similar to social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Users will also be able to “like” and comment on each other’s posts.

“This product is more than just buying and selling – it is about building your community,” Sanchan Saxena, Coinbase’s vice president of product, told reporters in a press briefing. “It is about making sure that you can connect and engage with them on the platform.”

In addition to the official Coinbase Wallet, the marketplace will support “all sorts of self-custody wallets” – a decision the firm says it made to create an open NFT environment for everyone. The platform will also support fiat purchases via credit card.

The marketplace will start off with zero transaction fees (besides Ethereum gas fees and creator-implemented royalties), but will eventually implement a “low, single-digit fee,” Saxena said.

A new direction for NFTs?

A social media-focused marketplace is novel in the current NFT landscape, but could become the norm as more players enter the industry.

In March, Mark Zuckerberg announced that NFTs would eventually come to Instagram, though details on the integration remain unknown.

Social media focus or not, any marketplace entering the world of Ethereum NFTs will have to take a direct shot at OpenSea, which has hosted 95% of all Ethereum-based NFT traders in the past month, according to data from DappRadar.

Highlights from our recent coverage

Bitcoin 2022 Miami: Has Bitcoin taken over the world yet?

Earlier this month, Miami hosted a major 4-day conference, Bitcoin 2022 – spilling crypto and Bitcoin-focused insights. While some people found the event productive, others reported that it was as much a social, networking-based event as one where people shared commercially actionable information.

The Acquire Podcast Ep. 7: ‘Founders not meeting with their customers are doing it wrong’: Conduit’s Kirill Gertman

Conduit is an early-stage B2B fintech providing infrastructure for DeFi payments. The firm’s co-founder and CEO, Kirill Gertman, joins us on the Acquire Podcast. “If you’re a founder and not talking to your customers,” he says, “I’m sorry but you're doing it wrong.”

What we're reading

  • Fidelity says it will offer crypto in retirement accounts this year (TechCrunch)
  • Dogecoin surges nearly 9% amid reports of Elon Musk buying Twitter (CoinDesk)
  • Cross River Bank teams up with Sardine on crypto payments infrastructure (PYMNTS)
  • Grayscale makes fresh push for SEC approval to become bitcoin ETF (FT)
  • Crypto exchange expands into the US (Finextra)
  • Binance taps former regulators to strengthen global surveillance team (CoinDesk)
  • Binance: crypto platform’s US affiliate could find chilly market reception (FT)
  • Crypto proponents fear SEC 'backdoor' regulations on exchanges, dealers (CoinDesk)
  • Tether’s Paolo Ardoino on UST: ‘It’s all fun and games’ until you're a $100 billion coin (CoinDesk)

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