May 16, 2021 • 10M

Ep 23. Crypto: Force for good?

20x ATMs. Facebook's Diem to launch US stablecoins. Philanthropy.

 
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Some say Crypto is a scam. Others swear it's a breakthrough technology. But which is it? Join us, as we explore Crypto in real life (IRL).
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This week I spent some time with family. We had lots of great conversations. I was persuaded to change my position on a couple topics. This led me to reflect on the importance of being open-minded and willing to adjust views when presented with new evidence. The tragedy is that many people miss the advent of new technology or new ideas because of their mindset. In 1995, Bill Gates famously said that the internet was a passing fad. Can you imagine your life without the internet today? I can’t.

News

1. Moneygram launching crypto: 20x ATMs

  • Moneygram has over 410,000 locations around the world. The company provides global money transfer and bill pay services.

  • Moneygram is partnering with Coinme, a cryptocurrency exchange, to enable people buy crypto with cash or withdraw it from brick-and-mortar locations.

  • This is a big deal because there are only about 20,000 crypto ATMs worldwide. This partnership could 20x that number. Crypto ATMs are often used by migrants sending funds back to their home countries. They also help reach people who may not have smartphones or regular access to the internet. I think this could help democratize access to crypto.

2. Diem moves back to US, picks Silvergate

  • The Facebook-backed Diem project (formerly known as Libra) is relocating from Switzerland to the US and partnering with Silvergate Bank to launch a stablecoin

  • Facebook is going to become a payments giant. FacebookWith the recent launch of WhatsApp Pay in Brazil and India, Facebook, with over 2 billion users across its platform, is gearing up to become a payments giant

  • Expect the competition for global P2P (person-to-person) and merchant payments to heat up. Circle, the issuer of USDC, has been snapping up executives from Diem while PayPal has big ambitions and is rumored to be launching a stablecoin. Stay tuned.

3. Coinbase bans salary negotiation

  • Last year, the New York Times alleged that female and black Coinbase employees were paid 8% and 7% less, respectively, than their peers in the same role.

  • This week, Coinbase announced it was banning negotiation and offering the same pay package to all new hires into each role. However, promotions and pay increases would continue to be tied to performance.

  • This new policy has generated mixed responses. I think it is a great step to eliminating pay disparities and encouraging meritocracy. I applaud Coinbase for taking action. Let’s see how this experiment goes.

4. Tesla STOPS vehicle purchases with bitcoin

  • Elon’s tweet felt like the shot heard all around the world. It reignited concerns about the environmental impact of bitcoin mining. Some say up to 70% is powered by renewable sources.

  • But this was a big nothing burger. Tesla continues to hold over $1B of bitcoin. More importantly, only a small group of people were using bitcoin to buy Teslas.

  • Elon Musk is a modern day polymath genius. He is trying to colonize Mars…surely he could help drive down the environmental impact of bitcoin mining. Offer solutions, don’t just point problems.

5. Crypto becomes a force for good

  • This week, Vitalik Buterin, the 27 year old founder of Ethereum, donated $1.5B worth of cryptocurrencies to COVID-19 relief in India

  • Recently, Crypto Twitter users donated over $800,000 to a child battling leukemia whose parents were struggling with hospital bills

  • There are so many more examples of cryptocurrencies being a force for good. Money and power don’t change who you are, rather, they reveal your true nature. Love to see more examples like this. I am working on a couple ideas too :-)

Questions

I’d like to dip my toes in crypto but I don’t know if I can trust these crypto exchanges. I would feel more comfortable going with my bank or stock trader app. What do you think?

  • You are not alone. Survey by NYDIG found that 70% of people would prefer to access digital currencies through their bank. Unfortunately, most banks are not there yet but the tide is turning. Revolut and US Bank both enable customers to do so and I expect there will be more announcements over the next 12 months.

  • Do you already have a CashApp, PayPal or Robinhood account? These FinTechs enable users to buy and sell a few cryptocurrencies.

  • I have tried a number of exchanges. I’m actually gone to beta-test Okcoin’s revamped app. Now, Coinbase is the de facto option for a lot of people new to crypto, however, I have been impressed by Okcoin for 2 reasons: (a) lower fees (b) ease of set-up: I think it takes about 17 mouse-clicks to establish an account while Coinbase and others have more than double that.