Crypto-currency users are turning to cryptocurrencies to make their payments more secure, with more and more businesses now offering it as a form of payment.
In a recent survey of more than 1,000 people, more than half of respondents said they use crypto-curves, while two-thirds of those who had already used them said they were used to making payments using fiat currencies.
“There are very few places where crypto currencies have an actual use other than as a medium of exchange, such as a payment app,” said Andrew Leong, head of technology at online payments platform Bitpay.
“They are used as an alternative to Bitcoin, or even Litecoin, as an easy way to send money without using a lot of money, or as a way to make payments at restaurants without using expensive payment terminals.”
He said many crypto-currency customers also used them as an opportunity to buy physical goods or services.
“It’s the cheapest, fastest, and most secure way of transferring money in the world, but it’s also the least accessible to the average consumer,” he said.
Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency in the United States and Australia, but there are also many others, including Ether, Ripple, and Litecoin.
A recent survey conducted by data analytics company IDC found that only 2.6 per cent of US consumers have a crypto-wallet account, with the majority of those opting for services that offer a payment platform or online payment gateway.
“I would be very surprised if there’s not some kind of a niche crypto-coin community in the US, because it’s pretty small,” said Chris Dixon, a Bitcoin expert at the research firm Gartner.
“People are looking for it because of all the great things that it does, not because it is the best alternative to fiat currencies.”
Dixon said it was important to remember that most of the users who use cryptocurrencies do so for convenience.
“When you’re buying things online, you’re paying in cash, and you’re not really trusting your bank or a financial institution,” he explained.
“So people may be looking for a solution that lets them send money directly to their wallet in a way that doesn’t require a lot more work.”
Digital currencies have been gaining popularity as they have become more mainstream and as more people use them as a means of exchanging value.
But not everyone agrees that crypto-money is the right solution for all kinds of transactions.
While some have called for Bitcoin to be banned from the global financial system, others are worried that the currency could ultimately lead to the collapse of the global economy, as it would be vulnerable to the same problems that have been seen with other digital currencies in the past.
“The problems that Bitcoin has experienced, in terms of scaling, are the same ones that could result from the collapse,” said John McAfee, an expert on cryptocurrencies who is an adviser to a startup in the Bitcoin space.
“In the long term, the collapse will come from the lack of trust and people wanting to use more than one currency.”
The biggest question now is whether there is enough trust to allow a wide-scale adoption of crypto-fiat payments.
“If you think about the people that use these services, they’re often younger people, who aren’t used to having to trust a third-party,” said Dixon.
“You have a problem with people trusting one currency that they may or may not be using, and then it becomes a big issue for a currency to be able to survive.”