The next generation of investors are super online — instead of traditional investments, many Gen Z and young millennial investors, from teens to those in their early 20s, are bullish on cryptocurrency and thetechnology that surrounds it.
This includes digital coins and blockchains, like bitcoin and ethereum; meme coins, like dogecoin; NFTs, or nonfungible tokens; and DeFi, or decentralized finance.
Some have spent the bulk of their savings on these type of investments: Nearly half of millennial millionaires have at least 25% of their wealth in cryptocurrencies, according to a new CNBC Millionaire Survey. More than a third of millennial millionaires have at least half their wealth in crypto and about half own NFTs.
Young investors have also taken part in recent meme stock rallies, which occur when retail investors buy up shares of stocks shorted by Wall Street hedge funds, like GameStop and AMC Entertainment. In part, the investors hope to force hedge funds to pay, overcoming what they see to be an inefficient system.
One reason young people have turned to alternative investments like crypto is simple: Many just don’t trust traditional investment institutions. They prefer to rely on their own research rather than use insights from traditional institutions, like financial advisors from legacy firms.
But this distrust isn’t the only thing driving young people to invest in cryptocurrencies and meme stocks. First, many have a genuinely positive outlook on blockchain technology. And second, at the same time that they feel disconnected from traditional investments, many are finding community, and sometimes fun, in the crypto space. They want to invest in what they connect with, whether it be stocks, coins or digital assets.
The coronavirus pandemic has fueled the switch to digital payments in the United Kingdom. A recent report forecast only 7% of in-store purchases in the UK could be made in cash by 2024.
While cash accounted for 27% of in-store transactions in 2019, the latest global payments report from processing company Worldpay found that had fallen to 13% last year. The report predicts usage will continue to drop over the next three years.
International figures showed that in several other countries, including Sweden, Canada and Australia, already less than one in 10 shop payments are made in cash.
It predicted Sweden would be “almost cashless” by 2024, with 0.4% of transactions paid for with money, down from 15.2% in 2019 and 8.8% last year.
Consumers and businesses were already moving away from cash payments before the pandemic hit, but early concerns that Covid-19 could spread via surfaces led some companies to switch to contactless methods.
The increase in the contactless limit on cards, and mobile payment services with no cap on spending have accelerated the switch away from cash. Worldpay said that by 2024 it expected mobile to make up a third of payments.
Apple is looking for a lead negotiator to strike partnerships with “alternative payment” partners, according to a job listing posted on Tuesday.
The role, according to the listing, would include screening potential partners, negotiating and signing deals, and launching new programs and features for Apple’s Wallets, Payments, and Commerce team. It will also work with Apple Pay teams.
“Lead the partnership program with key players in the Alternative Payments ecosystem, covering the complete process of partner identification, business case development and socialization, partnership negotiation, contract signing and execution, go to market launch and continued partnership value growth,” the job listing says.
Like most Apple job listings, it doesn’t mention specific products or partnerships that the role would work on. But it does mention some examples of alternative payments experience that Apple is looking for, including digital wallets, BNPL (buy now pay later, like Affirm), fast payments and cryptocurrency.
Apple has a digital wallet app built into the iPhone, called Wallet. When it started in 2012, it could hold digital boarding passes. Over the years, it has grown to include a number of financial services, such as contactless Apple Pay, peer-to-peer payments, the Goldman Sachs-powered Apple Card and loyalty rewards programs.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly discussed his vision of a future without physical cash, only digital payments.
Apple has not yet announced a feature to allow iPhone users to widely accept payments, except through its peer-to-peer service. But the company has considered the idea. Last year, Apple bought Mobeewave, a startup that built software that allowed devices with NFC chips, like Apple’s iPhones and iPads, to become payment terminals.
EBay could soon be accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment, the company said on Monday.
Several big companies have begun to accept virtual currencies as a form of payment, a step closer to becoming mainstream.
Early this year, Tesla started accepting bitcoin as payment for its electric cars, while payments giant PayPal last year initially allowed customers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies using its online wallets.
“We are always looking at the most relevant forms of payment and will continue to assess that going forward. We have no immediate plans, but it (cryptocurrency) is something we are keeping an eye on,” eBay said in a statement.
In a recent interview Chief Executive Officer Jamie Iannone also said it was looking at a “number of ways” to get into the NFT space.
NFTs, a type of digital asset that exists on a blockchain, have exploded in popularity this year, with NFT artworks selling for millions of dollars and musicians such as the Kings of Leon rock group embracing them for their latest album.
“Everything that’s collectible has been on eBay for decades and will continue to be for the next few decades.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 terminalsalso 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.