Whole Foods, Baskin Robins and 13 other major retailers start to accept Bitcoin!

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Recently a few of the U.S. major retailers have started accepting Bitcoin and other top cryptocurrencies. This is done with the help of Flexa’s Spedn app and Gemini exchange. Flexa partnered with Gemini to bring this service to people who want to spend their cryptocurrencies.

The Flexa Network

Flexa was launched in February 2018 and since the beginning their main goal was to improve crypto usability. They claim that over the past year, they have built tens of thousands of merchant point of sale terminals worldwide:

“So, instead of bolting cryptocurrency payments on top of debit cards, we took the opposite approach. Over the past year, we’ve built new connections with tens of thousands of merchant point-of-sale terminals nationwide, to bypass the existing payments infrastructure and push cryptocurrency-based payment authorizations directly to merchants on your behalf.”

This becomes a reality with their new app called SPEDN. Flexa in partnership with Gemini has developed a new app that lets users spend their cryptocurrencies. The apps only purpose is to spend crypto.

Retailers configuring their scanners

What Flexa and Gemini have done is quite remarkable. They have persuaded these retailers to change their scanners in order to receive crypto payments. This happens via a QR code. Users just hold up their phone and scan the QR code which is presented by the cashier. Having said that, the cashier won’t be able to tell the difference whether the customer is paying in fiat or crypto.

However, while this might seem that is beneficial only for the crypto user and hodler, the CEO of Flexa, Tyler Spalding says that Flexa’s SPEDN app offers merchants the chance to lower the commission fees they pay to existing payment networks. So at this point, it becomes beneficial for both parties.

“Merchants who are currently subject to overly complex, expensive legacy systems of credit and debit cards stand to benefit significantly. In fact, major retailers pay billions of dollars each year in processing costs (costs that are often borne at least in part by the consumer). With Flexa, merchants (i) get significantly less expensive and fraud-resistant transactions. (ii) can use the same payment hardware they currently use. (iii) receive payment in fiat currency, not crypto. We believe that not only will this result in cost-savings to the merchant, but to the consumer in the long-term as well.”

Marketed as “here to stay”, but in reality it’s just a test

While this all might seem like the monetary world is changing, don’t rush to conclusions just yet. These big corporations haven’t yet commented on this issue. Only an anonymous source told the reason why. It appears that these major retailers are accepting crypto only in a test mode, to see whether this actually is what the consumer wants and whether this is sustainable. They even question whether this will be available until the end of the year.

One of the arguments is that a regular consumer who doesn’t use crypto will not buy cryptocurrencies just to purchase food in Whole Foods. However, the guy who has been holding crypto assets for quite some time is the main audience and will use this feature.

But when looking at the crypto audience as such, Flexa with their SPEDN app is just another third-party service. Crypto believers and supporters strive to eliminate the third parties which the modern world offers on every corner. And that is the question – will this age well? Bitcoin and crypto as such is a peer-to-peer system.



Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

NASDAQ will help Crypto to fight crime and manipulation

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NASDAQ is the second largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalization. It has been operating for a long time. National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) was founded in 1971. Today it has more than 3,3k asset listings, and its market cap is around $10 trillion. 

Operating for so long has made their security measures exceptional. They have decades of experience in developing tools for protecting the traditional financial instruments. Now they are willing to share this experience to help fight market fraud and manipulation within the cryptocurrency market.

“Regulators, brokers, and exchanges have surveillance teams that monitor activity constantly and advanced technologies to help capture and analyze abusive behaviors including pump-and-dump schemes, insider trading, wash trading as well as spoofing and layering,” citing Bloomberg.

Recent hacks and price manipulation

It is very common for small cryptocurrency exchanges to suffer from malicious attacks.

Recently we reported that a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange was hacked and almost $60 million in cryptocurrencies were stolen. Also, earlier this year, the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea – Bithumb, got hacked as well. Reports say that they lost around $31,4 million.

So as we can see neither small nor large-scale exchanges are safe from these hacker attacks. The fact which always gets applied to incidents like these is the price swings and manipulations which are believed to be the consequences to these attacks. That is not entirely true, because the market fundamentals stay the same. People sell their assets, and because of that, the price plummets. The best comparison is by Charlie Lee, the founder of Litecoin: “..if someone robs a bank, that does not change the price of gold!”

Gemini adapts this technology.

However, this all doesn’t mean we don’t need the Nasdaq experience in fighting fraud within exchanges. “Nasdaq licenses its market-surveillance technology to exchanges,” says Bloomberg. And by now, there already is one crypto exchange – Gemini, which has applied for this surveillance technology.

The Winklevoss twins founded the exchange, and they say that the Nasdaq surveillance “is tried and true technology that’s used by some of the largest exchanges in the world, so it’s an obvious fit. We love rules-based markets when the playing field is clear and straightforward, and there’s transparency,” said Cameron Winklevoss to Bloomberg.

The fearless traders

All this is right, and this was bound to happen, cryptocurrencies must be regulated as they are coming in as a new asset class. Although, this new asset class could be divided into many smaller frictions, referring to what Kraken exchange expressed earlier this year in their blog post: “being protected from market manipulation doesn’t matter to most crypto traders.”

I believe this statement is true as there still are many traders who are hunting for the x100 gains from small-cap coins. Also, investing and speculating on small-cap currencies can only be done in small volume exchanges. These exchanges are at the top of the list of being a hacking victim. But all that responsibility lies on the traders’ shoulders because he took the risk and started trading on an indistinct foreign exchange. The trader is aware that his choice of exchange might be wrong, but that is a part of the game. On the one hand – he can get his x100 on a coin, on the other, he can lose all his funds. I think this kind of “game” should always be allowed.

So there will be regulated exchanges and unregulated ones. Smart investors will always choose the regulated ones because there the funds are safe, and even if they get stolen someday, you can sue the owners and receive compensation. Whereas if doing business with an unregulated one, your funds are never safe, but at the same time, you can get more significant gains.



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