12 Crypto Billionaires on 2021 Forbes’ List

12 cryptocurrency tycoons made it to the Forbes’ 35th Annual World’s Billionaires List

What a difference a year makes–especially for cryptocurrency diehards. When the U.S. economy tanked in March 2020, panicked investors dumped stocks and risky assets for cash and treasuries. Bitcoin’s price fell 50% in a day, and other cryptocurrencies followed as the public braced for the unknown. 

Twelve months later, the prospect for digital assets has never looked brighter. Bitcoin pole-vaulted into 2021, with prices briefly surpassing $60,000 per coin in March. Other tokens saw similar gains, pushing the total cryptocurrency market capitalization to over $1.5 trillion. 

And now, large institutions are joining in on the action. Companies such as Square and Tesla are putting Bitcoin on their balance sheets. Once-stodgy financial firms like BNY Mellon, the nation’s oldest bank, are building crypto products. Even the Federal Reserve is involved, exploring the possibility of a digital dollar. 

As the crypto market grows, so does the industry’s three comma club: 12 crypto billionaires made the 2021 Forbes World’s Billionaires list, up from just four last year. The group’s composition—investors, builders, and issuers—reflects how the crypto ecosystem is evolving, and who’s getting rewarded. 

Net worths are as of March 5, 2021.

  • Sam Bankman-Fried NET WORTH: $8.7 BILLION
  • Brian Armstrong.NET WORTH: $6.5 BILLION
  • Chris Larsen NET WORTH $3.4 BILLION
  • Cameron Winklevoss NET WORTH: $3 BILLION
  • Tyler Winklevoss NET WORTH: $3 BILLION
  • Michael Saylor NET WORTH: $2.3 BILLION
  • Jed McCaleb NET WORTH $2 BILLION
  • Fred Ehrsam. NET WORTH: $1.9 BILLION
  • Changpeng Zhao. NET WORTH: $1.9 BILLION
  • Barry Silbert NET WORTH: $1.6 BILLION
  • Matthew Roszak. NET WORTH: $1.5 BILLION
  • Tim Draper. NET WORTH: $1.5 BILLION

Read full story here: Forbes.com

Payment company launches Checkout with Crypto

PayPal announced on Tuesday that U.S. consumers can now use cryptocurrency to pay for some of their online purchases, a move that could significantly boost use of digital assets in everyday commerce.

Customers with cryptocurrency holdings in the U.S. will now be able to choose to check out with crypto seamlessly within PayPal. The service, called Checkout with Crypto, is available at millions of global online businesses, the company said.

Checkout with Crypto builds on the ability of PayPal users to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies, which the California-based payments company launched in October.

“This is the first time you can seamlessly use cryptocurrencies in the same way as a credit card or a debit card inside your PayPal wallet,” Paypal President and CEO Dan Schulman said.

The offering made PayPal one of the largest mainstream companies to open its network to cryptocurrencies and helped fuel a rally in virtual coin prices. The launch came less than a week after Tesla said it would start accepting bitcoin payments for its cars.

While the the digital asset is gaining traction among mainstream investors, it has yet to become a widespread form of payment, due in part to its continued volatility.

PayPal hopes its service can change that, as by settling the transaction in fiat currency, merchants will not take on the volatility risk.

“We think it is a transitional point where cryptocurrencies move from being predominantly an asset class that you buy, hold and or sell to now becoming a legitimate funding source to make transactions in the real world at millions of merchants,” Schulman said.

The company will charge no transaction fee to checkout with crypto and only one type of coin can be used for each purchase.

The service will be available at all of its 29 million merchants in the coming months, the company said.

Read full report here reuters.com

More companies plan to accept crypto payments

Big brands are finding it hard to ignore cryptocurrencies

Some of the world’s biggest companies announce plans to embrace digital assets as crypto valuations soar.

Mastercard recently made headlines when it said it would support direct payments for major cryptocurrencies. PayPal has initially allowed customers to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies since October 2020, and now plans to support crypto as a funding source for its 29 million merchants by the end of the first quarter. Visa CEO Al Kelly said the payments giant is in a position to make cryptocurrencies more “safe, useful and applicable” and may add them to the company’s payments network. 

After the payment giants made the announcements, several other recognizable brands have accelerated crypto plans. Each one brought more interest into the crypto economy, with the goal to make the process of paying in cryptocurrency as straightforward as using cash or a credit card.

UBER

The ride hailing company reportedly considered using corporate cash to invest in bitcoin but rejected the idea. It is now considering accepting cryptocurrency for payments.

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC that bitcoin is too speculative for an investment but is in line with Uber’s philosophy of supporting as many currencies as possible for ride sharing, delivery and related businesses.

Uber’s brand is built partly on how easy it is to pay drivers. As consumers accrue more crypto through investment, or if crypto payments become more popular, it would make sense for Uber to add it as a payment option.

AMAZON

The e-commerce giant recently floated a potential digital currency project in Mexico.

It’s early stage, but Amazon is looking for ways to add value for its Prime consumers, according to Coindesk. Amazon shoppers will be able to convert cash to digital currency, which will be usable across Amazon’s range of shopping, entertainment and related content.

A digital currency could provide another way for Amazon to keep shoppers inside its ecosystem, pairing its payment app with shopping, incentives and delivery.

SQUARE

Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has become a major supporter of bitcoin, saying it will become the primary currency of the internet.

Square enables bitcoin investing, an activity that has grown more than ten-fold on Square’s platform over the past year.

Bitcoin support has become a major driver of Square’ financial performance. Square has also formed a team to work on bitcoin related projects and use cases, but thus far the company does not have plans to develop its own digital currency.

Read here for full story (paymentssource.com)

World’s biggest payment networks adopt cryptocurrencies

Are cryptocurrencies finally heading towards mainstream adoption?

MASTERCARD

Mastercard is planning to give merchants the option to receive payments in cryptocurrency later this year.

According to a source familiar with the matter, the functionality will see Mastercard customers’ digital currency payments settled in crypto at participating merchants, a first for the financial giant. The company has not yet disclosed which digital currencies it intends to support, or where.

The details shed new light on CEO Michael Miebach’s Q4 pledge to integrate digital currency payments “directly on our network” in a move the new chief, helming his first earnings call on Jan. 28, said will provide maximal flexibility to customers and merchants alike.

The new initiative promises to upend that dynamic among the store owners and businesses who opt in. They will be able to conduct their business beyond the bounds of the fiat ecosystem, assuming, of course, their customers have crypto they’re willing to spend. 

Read full story here (coindesk.com)

VISA

Visa CEO Al Kelly said the payments giant is in a position to make cryptocurrencies more “safe, useful and applicable” and may add them to the company’s payments network. Speaking on the company’s fiscal first-quarter 2021 earnings call, Kelly described cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as “digital gold” that are “not used as a form of payment in a significant way at this point.” 

“Our strategy here is to work with wallets and exchanges to enable users to purchase these currencies using their Visa credentials or to cash out onto our Visa credential to make a fiat purchase at any of the 70 million merchants where Visa is accepted globally,” Kelly said. 

The payments executive also said stablecoins could be used for “global commerce” and that “digital currencies running on public blockchains as additional networks just like RTP or ACH networks.” 

Read full story here (coindesk.com)

PAYPAL

PayPal has entered the cryptocurrency market, announcing that its customers will be able to buy and sell Bitcoin and other virtual currencies using their PayPal accounts. Those virtual coins could then be used to buy things from the 26 million sellers which accept PayPal, it said.

PayPal plans to roll out buying options in the US over the next few weeks, with the full rollout due early next year.

All could be stored “directly within the PayPal digital wallet”, the company said. PayPal said it was aiming “to increase consumer understanding and adoption of cryptocurrency”.

“As part of this offering, PayPal will provide account holders with educational content to help them understand the cryptocurrency ecosystem,” it said.

Read full story here (bbc.com)

AMEX

American Express, one of the biggest financial firms in the US has entered the cryptocurrency market with the latest investment in an institutional crypto trading platform, FalconX. The American Express Ventures did not disclose the actual size of the investment.

According to the official press release shared by FalconX, American Express is planning to explore a potential opportunity to offer services related to digital assets with the recent partnership. FalconX is a digital asset trading platform focused on institutional investors.

Founded in 1850, American Express is one of the oldest financial firms in the US with headquarters in New York. The current market capitalization of the financial firm is around $95 billion. The company recently ramped up its efforts to address the growing demand for digital assets, and the recent investment in FalconX is another step towards the adoption of the evolving market of cryptocurrencies.

Read full story here (financemagnates.com)

Tesla plans to accept crypto payments

Tesla drives up bitcoin price with US$1.5B purchase

The announcement that much of the crypto world has been hoping for is here: Tesla has invested in bitcoin.

The electric vehicle maker said Monday in an annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it has put an aggregate $1.5 billion into bitcoin under a new investment policy and that the company may “acquire and hold digital assets from time to time or long term.”

The announcement caps a history going back to at least 2018 of Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeting and commenting on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies including dogecoin.

A growing number of big institutional investors including Paul Tudor Jones II and Bill Miller have pushed into bitcoin as a potential hedge against inflation, as the Federal Reserve and central banks around the world pump trillions of dollars of freshly created money into financial markets to stimulate their coronavirus-racked economies. Tesla joins publicly traded companies including Michael Saylor’s MicroStrategy that have steered corporate money into bitcoin.

Bitcoin’s price shot up more than 14% after Tesla’s disclosure to a new all-time high of $44,801, based on CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index. The jump pushed bitcoin’s year-to-date return to about 50%, versus 3.9% for the Standard & Poor’s Index of large U.S. stocks.

“We think this is just the start to a much wider adoption from household institutional names, finally ready to make the crossover into the crypto space,” Joel Kruger, strategist at the cryptocurrency exchange LMAX Digital, said in an email.

The Tesla announcement and subsequent price move in bitcoin apparently triggered such a flurry of trading activity that big cryptocurrency exchanges including Binance, Coinbase, Gemini and Kraken all experienced technical difficulties.

The 12-year-old bitcoin, which is the oldest and largest cryptocurrency, now has a market valuation of $818 billion, just behind Tesla’s $823 billion but ahead of Facebook’s $757 billion, according to the website companiesmarketcap.com. Only seven other publicly traded companies in the world are larger than bitcoin, though it’s still well shy of gold’s $11.7 trillion market value and silver’s $1.5 trillion.

Read full story here (coindesk.com)

Countries that prefer cashless transactions

These are the top countries where cashless is now king

People around the world disagree to a high degree about what the superior method of payment is. As shown in a survey by Global Web Index, most South Koreans wouldn’t trade their cashless payments for anything, while in some other nations, people feel better with a big wad of cash in their pockets.

South Korea’s penchant for cashless payment is confirmed in another survey. According to data collected by initiative Cash Essentials, only 14 percent of payments in South Korea involve cash – in line with the preference of its population.

This isn’t always the case though. In Japan, Spain and France, for example, between 60 and 67 percent of people prefer cashless payments. Nevertheless, cash was involved in between 68 and 87 percent of payments in these countries, potentially hinting at the inability to pay with card or other cashless means for certain goods and services.

It’s exactly the other way around in the U.S., where only 32 percent of payments involve cash, but a comparably low 58 percent of people identify going cashless as their preferred option. Despite card payments being widespread in the country, the payment mode might carry negative connotations like going into debt and data insecurity.

In some developing countries, cash is still the undisputed king of payments. The countries (out of 46 in the survey) where the least people were in favor of cashless payments were the Philippines and Egypt at 33 percent each and Morocco at 34 percent.

One of the biggest reasons for people preferring cash in developing countries is not having a bank account and thus no bank card. In the Philippines, only 29 percent of adults had a bank account in 2019, according to the country’s central bank. Cash Essentials notes that the number of card-accepting terminals also remained low in the country.

It remains to be seen if card payments still catch on in some developing countries. In places where payment cards are not yet widespread, phone payments can actually spread quicker, creating a leapfrog effect of the population migrating straight from cash to mobile wallets and other phone payments.

Read full report here (weforum.org)

Will Miami be the most competitive crypto city in the world?

The city will soon accept crypto payments

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said today that he is building out a team to help develop his plans for getting more involved in the cryptocurrency space—with announcements coming out next week.

Speaking in an interview with Cryptex Finance (where Decrypt was a fly on the wall), he was asked whether he had considered investing in Ethereum instead of Bitcoin—given that he could create applications to collect taxes directly on the blockchain platform itself. 

“We’d love to do that. What we’re looking at is two things. One is to accept crypto for payments, and there’s a process, right. We probably won’t hold Bitcoin or any cryptocurrencies. We’ll probably have a third party hold it and take the cryptocurrency—in the extent there is some volatility,” the Mayor said.

Cryptex Finance is the team behind TCAP, a total crypto market cap token, which gives holders real-time price exposure to the total cryptocurrency market cap. 

The purpose behind the call between the Mayor and the Cryptex Finance team was to discuss the possibilities of using Ethereum to promote the city’s cryptocurrency strategy. Ethereum is a platform that’s home to hundreds of decentralized applications, where automated programs can be built for any financial application, such as borrowing or lending money.

During the call, the Mayor shared some of his recent thoughts on cryptocurrency. He argued that money can be anything that society considers to have value. 

“Anything can be money—anything can have value. What has value is what we, as a society, value,” the Mayor said. 

In fact, the Mayor believes that the digital revolution of money is already underway. “If you really think about it, in many ways we’re already in a digital money market,” the Mayor said. 

He suggested that Bitcoin could be an alternative that affords citizens a new sense of freedom, as opposed to fiat currencies tied to government policy. 

“Money and currency is being used to promote policies. We have a market crash, so we have to influence the behaviour of people through the money supply,” the Mayor added. 

Suarez has been demonstrating serious interest in Bitcoin in recent weeks, suggesting the cryptocurrency could put some of Miami’s treasury reserves in Bitcoin. 

Mayor Suarez then discussed the future of the cryptocurrency industry with the Winklevoss twins earlier this month. In the interview, he said his mission was to make Miami the “most crypto competitive city on the planet.” 

“There’s a lot of people who live in Miami who might have family who live elsewhere in other countries—they pay tremendous fees just to move that money,” Tyler Winklevoss said, adding, “Cryptocurrency is like sending money the same way you send an email.” 

The Mayor wants to encourage more technologically savvy people to go to Miami and get stuck in.

In reaction to a Bloomberg article covering the Mayor’s efforts, he tweeted, “We want anyone who shares our vision to come here and build,” adding, But we’re not going to be ‘Silicon Beach’ or the next New York…we are Miami and we won’t forget that.”

Read full story here (decrypt.co)

Digital payments boom in the Middle East

Innovative digital payment options : what consumers expect from merchants in the region

The Middle East region’s digital payments industry is poised for major growth in 2021. According to a Checkout.com report, nearly half of the region’s consumers will likely increase their online shopping this year. This poses a growth opportunity for digital companies and e-commerce players now that shoppers prefer to use digital payments and its systems.

In Saudi Arabia, there was a 75% increase in digital payment transactions in 2020, while cash withdrawals thru ATM and other payments system fell 30%.

Meanwhile, a state-run digital payments system recently launched in Pakistan. The Raast project, developed by the country’s state bank in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to provide access to fast payment systems among financially excluded and less privileged individuals in the country.

Bill Gates said in a statement, “I hope that in years to come we will look back and see this new digital public good as an important contribution to our shared goal of giving all people the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Click here for the full report

Sweden: World’s first cashless society by 2023

How does a country become the world’s first cashless society? Sweden, one of the most technologically advanced nations on the planet, is leading the way. Sweden is paving its way to becoming the world’s first cashless society by March 2023. 

A nation of early adopters

By then, by March 24, 2023 to be precise, in Sweden, cash will no longer be accepted as a means of payment. In general, cash is already a no-go in Sweden. There is a unique law in Sweden that enables merchants to make customers pay electronically in spite of the status of cash as a legal tender.

By then, by March 24, 2023 to be precise, in Sweden, cash will no longer be accepted as a means of payment. In general, cash is already a no-go in Sweden. There is a unique law in Sweden that enables merchants to make customers pay electronically in spite of the status of cash as a legal tender.

Sweden’s culture of innovation and being early adopters of technology coupled with the nation’s high-quality of life have played a paramount role in the transition. Once Sweden becomes a cashless economy, citizens and visitors will no longer be able to use cash to make purchases. They will have to make all payments electronically.

Coins and banknotes will not completely disappear at the beginning. But no one will be able to use them in a practical sense. They will become just collectables and will be included in museums’ collections. 

Sweden has always been one of the first countries in embracing new technologies. Sweden, as a country, is a first adopter. There is a tradition in Sweden about being the first. This is noticeable throughout the Scandinavian country’s history. Thus, its financial system is not an exception. 

In 1661, Sweden was the first country in Europe to introduce banknotes. Sweden has been at the forefront of banking innovation for quite a long time. Sweden’s first automatic cash machine was installed and ready to use in July 1967. This was only one week after the world’s very first one was opened in London.

In 2023, Sweden is proudly becoming the first cashless nation in the world, with an economy that goes 100 percent digitalCurrently, about 80 percent of Swedes use cards with 58 percent of payments being made by card and only six percent made in cash, according to the Swedish Central Bank.

Electronic payments have rapidly increased with more restaurants and shops not accepting cash payments at all. Mobile payment services also make payments from one individual to another much easier. 

The majority of Swedish banks have stopped allowing customers to make cash transactions over the counter. Many branches across the country have closed. Cash is extremely expensive to manage due to the high security systems. If there is someone who wants to make a deposit or withdraw cash for some reason, they need to go to an ATM.

It took Sweden 362 years to transition from being the first nation in Europe to adopt banknotes in 1661, to becoming the world’s first cashless economy in 2023. 

The whole population in Sweden is under mobile coverage. And for the past years, in Sweden, almost all purchases have been paid electronically, by debit/credit card using chip and Pin rather than the old-fashioned magnetic band, using contactless technology, mobile card payments such as iZettle, or the mobile application Swish which was especially designed to help Swedes embrace a cashless life.

This means that now more than 80 percent of all retail transactions have been conducted electronically. This is similar to what happens in the rest of the other Nordic countries, which include Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. 

The way the Nordics are quickly embracing a cashless lifestyle strongly contrasts with the countries in the south of Europe, where cash is still a strong form of payment. Moreover, in some cities in southern Europe, several establishments accept only cash. This is the complete opposite of what happens in northern Europe, where cash is no longer accepted in the majority of places. 

In Sweden, those businesses where cash is still accepted today, are going to stop accepting cash payments in 2023. It is rather difficult already today to find an establishment where they accept cash. Those coming from abroad have to be ready to pay by card or by the mobile application Swish.

Read full story here

The Nucleus Salalah and Centurion: a partnership set to launch a new concept in property investing

Soon to rise in Oman’s growing coastal city, The Nucleus Salalah is a premier hospitality destination with 4-Star facility rooms and amenities.

With its close proximity to the airport, the city centre, the central market and the gold souk – this top-notch project boasts an ideal location that allows guests to enjoy the architectural wonder, the cultural charm and the natural beauty of Salalah – the city that turns green and attracts visitors from all around the world during Khareef (monsoon) festival.

The Nucleus Salalah is being developed by Nucleus Hotels & Resorts, the hospitality venture by Nucleus Premium Properties – one of the most trusted builders in Kerala, India, having been voted as the Favorite Builder in the Wtzup Kochi City Awards. The builder has an array of completed projects marked with the highest standard of quality, workmanship and professionalism.

In order to expand its market, The Nucleus Salalah has launched a partnership with Centurion Global – a specialized marketing company and part of a Fintech-focused group of businesses that has developed the Ducatus cashless ecosystem.

Centurion Global is set to introduce an innovative approach to the property business, wherein individuals will not only earn from a project, they can also experience the luxury offered by a hotel project like The Nucleus. This is called the Lifestyle Lease – which can give clients a potential monthly income equivalent to 3% lease repayment with additional annual stay allowances and special discounts for F&B as well as spa treatments. Lifestyle Lease is one of the flagship offers of Centurion’s crowdfunding business model Lease and Earn.

Lease and Earn is a next-generation platform that allows people to afford leasing portions of new businesses, high-value properties and assets as well as priceless experiences. Through Lease and Earn, people can harness their earning potential and build lasting wealth without having to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

This strategic partnership is in keeping with Ducatus Group of Companies’ vision to build and champion an alternative financial future. A future where a community of forward-thinking consumers appreciate and embrace the endless possibilities borne out of a fully cashless economy.

To learn more about The Nucleus Salalah and Centurion, visit:

https://nucleushotelsandresorts.com/about

http://centuriongm.com/leaseandearn