ARYZE spoke with Erica Stanford, founder of the Crypto Curry club. She discusses with us which payment issues can be solved by crypto, future potential use cases, and what it needs to become mainstream.
In 2018, Erica Stanford founded the Crypto Curry Club to bring together industry experts and professionals. In the midst of the many events she now organizes, Stanford watches the crypto space unfold. The blockchain world sparked her interest when she realized some of the major problems the technology could solve. One of the issues she faced herself when travelling through South America, was the costly and slow process of cross-border payments. With several cards stolen and no means of payment left, Stanford had to rely on money sent from home which took several days and included extremely high fees to get to the remote exchange office for her to pick up.
A more efficient and affordable way of transferring money across borders had to exist, Stanford believed. Years later, she learned about blockchain technology and noticed how the high costs of remittances could really be solved. This would improve things for the 800 million people dependent on funds sent home by their family members working abroad. Current remittance providers take advantage of these individuals, Stanford finds, as fees add up to 30 percent at times, with an average of 6.9 percent. The world’s poorest population pays the highest fees.
Payment opportunities with Crypto
Crypto changes all for these people, there are no large fees involved and transactions of small amounts like $1 are now viable. Money becomes digital and secure on a blockchain instead of it relying on banks that can go bankrupt. More importantly, as banks don’t deem it economically viable for them to serve the poorest billions and add on unnecessarily high costs, through crypto, these financially excluded can now get access to financial services, without having to depend on banks.
Endless opportunities open up with the new blockchain technology acting as an underlying payments infrastructure. Stanford mentions some of the key solutions that show great potential. Just as micro payments can help people send money to their families far more efficiently, it can also benefit various industries dealing with digital rights management.
If we look at the newspaper industry, seven per cent pays for a subscription in the UK. Most people don’t want one newspaper. They want one article here and one there. Here, you could have a model of payments-per-use instead of subscription.
The pay-per-content model could improve the industry significantly, Stanford believes. She shares another example of the gaming and gambling industry that could welcome digital cryptocurrencies for people wanting to transfer assets between games or cash out their earnings into fiat currency. Running this process on blockchain would allow for people to have more ownership of assets. A game could also reward people for playing or for watching advertisements through micro transactions.
The potential future role of governments
Stanford illustrates what she thinks the world would like with the unlimited potential of tokenization by mentioning the idea of Facebook’s Libra.
It would involve having one digital currency, world-wide, to get rid of all fees and be able to pay for anything around the world. No exchange, no need to cash out, no need for a bank account.
Recently, Facebook launched its cryptocurrency in Brazil and enabled Libra payments through WhatsApp. Within a week, the Brazilian government shut this initiative down. Stanford believes this is not the attitude that’s needed to bring the industry forward.
Governments are scared of losing control as they don’t understand how to control it. Innovations are really important, banks and remittances are holding the world hostage.
Without endorsing Facebook, I just think they act as an example of having a company that could initiate the tech, allowing for other start-ups and companies to progress the technology. It would have been interesting to see that play out without it being stopped by central authorities.
Stanford does believe governments have some kind of interest in digital currencies as cash is still widely used in criminal activities and very difficult to track. Digital money is cheaper, more secure and less crime-related, yet if used in the wrong way it also has its consequences. One of the scenarios Stanford is doubtful about is the hot topic of Central Bank Digital Currencies, as this still allows Central Banks to have power in the future.
With CBDCs, Central Banks could fully digitize currency which means they would have full control over it. In the hands of a malevolent government or leader, this becomes very risky and could have drastic consequences for the population if they acted in a way the government disliked. However, she emphasizes that just as with any invention or new technology, people can use it for good or for worse.
Crypto becoming mainstream
Luckily, there are plenty of use cases showing how blockchain and crypto could solve some large issues within various industries. Stanford believes for crypto to become mainstream, two major aspects need to be solved: Regulatory acceptance and a greater understanding of the technology. Concerning regulations, there needs to be more clarity around the legal and tax situation. Stanford shares the idea for a world-wide standard for ethical hackers to test everything. If a crypto exchange ‘passes the test’ they could gain a certificate and insurance which means the exchange is secure to use. Within two-three years, she expects to see bigger results on the regulations side.
For crypto to be better understood by the end-user, things like wallets need to have a far-improved user experience, Stanford thinks. The long codes and lost money if getting one digit wrong still make things very difficult for the average user to be engaged by the new payments infrastructure. Stanford argues that if one large company like Google or Amazon would launch their own crypto and potentially reward customers via their token, this would hugely push things forward.
Stanford is excited about the potential of blockchain and crypto, and she expects the technology to develop significantly over the coming few years. To learn more about Erica Stanford, connect with her on LinkedIn or check out the website of the Crypto Curry Club. If you’d like to read more about crypto, blockchain, and tokenization, check out our blog or visit our website.