Crypto adoption: Just hype or the payment method of the future?

Emerging markets are taking the lead in crypto adoption

The regulatory pressure in the crypto sector is constantly increasing. Countries around the world are scrambling for new regulatory measures to address a key challenge in the crypto market. Due to the anonymity of the market, the number of criminal activities involving cryptocurrencies in the context of money laundering has steadily increased over the years [1]. To meet this growing challenge, the EU has introduced appropriate regulatory measures. One of these measures is the MiCA regulation, which aims to harmonize the rules of crypto markets in the EU, not only to ensure financial stability, but also to counter criminal activities [2].

The level of adoption of cryptocurrencies varies widely around the world. A key driver here is the degree of government regulation. While countries such as China or Saudi Arabia prohibit the use of cryptocurrencies by law or through the central bank, cryptocurrencies are already accepted as a means of payment in some emerging countries. Officially, only El Salvador and the Central African Republic have so far adopted a digital cryptocurrency as a means of government payment [3].

Crypto adaptation in Germany: Is it already possible to pay with cryptocurrencies in online and offline commerce?

Germany is one of the pioneers in crypto regulation, as there are already specific rules regarding the licensing and monitoring of crypto assets [4]. Nevertheless, cryptocurrencies are not yet a legally accepted means of payment in Germany [5]. Based on the uniform regulation of the rules in crypto exchanges, more store providers will be motivated to offer crypto payments in their stores in the future.

Currently, some stores already offer payments with cryptocurrencies, most of which accept payments with Bitcoin. The two most well-known online services in Germany include Lieferando and Expedia. Lieferando has allowed customers to pay with Bitcoin since 2018 [6]. Since 2020, Expedia has been trying to introduce payments with different cryptocurrencies with Travala.com as a partner. Travala.com currently has 28 cryptocurrencies that users can pay with, including their own token AVA [7].

Established car companies like BMW also accept bitcoin payments when buying a car [8]. Bitcoin payments are offered not only online but also partially offline [9]. Users can purchase gift cards for various offline stores (e.g. Saturn, Kaufland) through various websites such as Coinsbee. The cards can be paid with 100+ different cryptocurrencies and redeemed in the respective stores [10]. Bitcoin payment is also possible in some selected restaurants. For example, since 2020 it has been possible to pay for coffee at Starbucks cafes with Bitcoin [11].

How far advanced is the rate of adoption of cryptocurrencies in everyday life?

To verify crypto adoption in everyday life, usability for crypto payments is of great importance. The main reasons that argue against the suitability of cryptocurrency as a means of payment for daily use are exchange rate fluctuations, tax aspects and problems with return transfers [12]. In addition, there are high transaction costs and long waiting times, both of which currently still need to be improved [13]. The ease of use of everyday crypto payments is often taken as a point of criticism, as it requires a lot of effort to set it up. First, the user has to look for a suitable wallet and then choose an exchange from a large selection [14]. To counter the weaknesses of crypto-payments in the area of ​​transaction costs, a solution to improve blockchain efficiency has recently been worked on. In particular, Ethereum has managed to reduce the necessary computing power and thus transaction costs by simplifying the validation process on the blockchain [15]. Despite the disadvantages, crypto payments should be viewed positively in everyday life, as they bring a wide range of benefits. Users have a wide range of cryptocurrencies to choose from and can choose which cryptocurrencies they want to pay with. Blockchain technology gives many people, especially from poorer countries, access to the financial system.

Conclusion

Most countries and economies have already begun to respond to modern technology and incorporate it into their businesses. However, cryptocurrencies still have too many problems for daily use and overall coverage of the industry. As a possible solution, the Ethereum blockchain could be taken as an example. By simplifying the validation process, it eliminates one of the biggest weaknesses of the technology and allows cryptocurrencies to advance in everyday life. In order for private individuals to continuously use crypto payments in their everyday lives, the payment options must be offered and further expanded not only in online stores, but above all in offline stores. Companies can thus offer their customers a much more convenient payment option in addition to the usual payment options.

Nevertheless, the new MiCA regulation in particular will lead the way for new crypto-specific rules and will have a direct impact on whether payment with crypto values ​​will prevail in everyday life in the future.

Many thanks to co-author Maureen Wennars.

Sources

[1] Zeit Online (September 2, 2021); Suspected cases of money laundering with cryptocurrencies are on the rise;

https://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/2021-09/geldwaesche-kryptowaehrungen-zunahme-cyberkriminalitaet-europa

[2] Kaulartz, Holl and Hirzle (08/08/2022); Crypto Assets Markets Regulation (MiCA) – A new regulatory framework for crypto assets and its scope;

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[3] CoinMarketCap.com; Countries that allow cryptocurrencies as legal tender;

https://coinmarketcap.com/en/legal-tender-countries/

[4] Godenrath (July 8, 2022); The crypto industry is having its Mifid II moment;

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[5] Climate and water (08/10/2022); Bitcoin Taxes 2021/2022: Pay or Avoid After One Year?;

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[6] Allgaeuhit.de (06/03/2022); Cryptocurrencies in everyday life: They are already being used here;

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[7] Bernhardt (07/07/2020); Travel with Bitcoin – Expedia and Travala accept cryptocurrencies;

Mit Bitcoin verreisen – Expedia und Travala akzeptieren Kryptowährungen

[8] PZ-news.de (27/10/2021), Where can you pay with bitcoins in Germany;

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[9] Cointelegraph.com; What you can buy with Bitcoin;

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[10] Coinsbee.com; Buy Kaufland voucher with bitcoins or other cryptos;

https://www.coinsbee.com/de/Kaufland-bitcoin

[11] Maihofer (16.04.2022); You can pay with Bitcoin at these fast food chains;

Bei diesen Fastfood-Ketten könnt ihr mit Bitcoin zahlen

[12] Böhl (03/03/2022); Where to pay with cryptocurrency?;

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[13] credit card.net; Cryptocurrency as the means of payment of the future?;

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[14] Schierhorn (21/09/2021); Payment with Bitcoin: How does it work? Where is it going?;

https://www.hanseaticbank.de/klarmacher/bezahlen/mit-bitcoin-bezahlen-wie-geh-das-wo-geht-das#online

[15] Blockchaincenter.net; Ethereum Proof of Stake (POS);

https://www.blockchaincenter.net/ethereum-2/

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