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How Companies Can Get Into Cryptocurrency

What Makes Blockchain or Cryptocurrency "Mainstream" and Have we Arrived?

When it comes to cryptocurrency, individuals often have an easier time making a decision than a company.

Where individuals only have to think about their personal financial goals and risk, companies may have a lot more at stake. There’s always risk involved but at the same time companies have many different avenues to get involved in cryptocurrency or with blockchain technologies.

Use cryptocurrency for transactions  

Accepting payments in cryptocurrency is one of the most obvious use cases for businesses. For those who sell a product or service there are an increasing number of e-commerce and point of sale options to take a payment in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. These new technologies also offer the facility to convert these payments immediately into fiat currency to avoid the price volatility of cryptocurrency (for example, Coinsquare Wealth helps companies convert cryptocurrency into dollars).

Firms can also pay wages in cryptocurrency, but due to price volatility this is still uncommon. Figures are not immediately clear as to how many companies actually have begun to pay wages in cryptocurrency rather than fiat.

Often employees who are regular cryptocurrency users themselves are more open to the prospect, shows recent polling.

A survey by Chronobank in July 2018, found that out of 445 cryptocurrency “enthusiasts” from all over the globe 65 percent of those polled said they were willing to be paid in cryptocurrency. Even more, at 80 percent, said they would be happy to receive any bonus payments in cryptocurrency.  

In comparison, accountancy software firm Sage, surveyed 1,000 people not indicated to be cryptocurrency users, though the poll could have included some. It found that 31 percent were open to being paid in cryptocurrency.

As well, for a company to pay full-time employees in cryptocurrency, it  would have to track exact rates of exchange to the dollar in order to calculate and declare relevant taxes, making the process extremely complicated.

Recently, Japan’s Nippon Yusen revealed it’s developing a, potentially blockchain-based, system in order to pay as many as 16,000 shipping workers in digital money.

Acquire a cryptocurrency or blockchain company

Established companies that are serious about getting into these new emerging sectors can look to fully acquire or develop a startup or division involved in cryptocurrency or blockchain.

Businesses often also acquire complementary technologies that offer benefits to their existing operations. For example a bank might look to acquire a blockchain startup developing blockchain technology for payments infrastructure.

Music streaming platform Spotify, for example, acquired blockchain startup Mediachain. It may use this new company and its blockchain technology to solve an industry issue of media rights and royalties. Blockchain’s secure, time stamped, immutability, could let it accurately reward each music creator, every time one of their tracks are played.

To diversify its cryptocurrency mining business, Vancouver-based HashChain Technology, acquired blockchain-based tax software company NODE40 in February 2018.

Non-technology focused businesses have looked to diversify away from their traditional focus and explore the new thriving markets of cryptocurrency. In Canada, even decades old oil and gas companies have leapt into a new type of mining – mining cryptocurrency – using existing infrastructure for this lucrative alternative purpose.

Join a consortium or project

As the blockchain world evolves, so does its associations and affiliate groups dedicated to advancing a particular area. For example, the finance and banking sector is an early adopter of blockchain technology due to the efficiency, speed, and security distributed ledger technology can offer to transactional infrastructure. To investigate the technology, many banks join consortiums or projects alongside blockchain technology companies to develop blockchains they can pilot, and eventually adopt into their daily operations.

One recent project that showed success is a collaboration between the National Bank of Canada and JP Morgan. The two worked together on a Quorum blockchain project.  development to test million-dollar debt issuance transactions using the blockchain. This is just one example of many globally.

Joining a consortium or project is an option for operators in any sector as these cryptocurrency and blockchain groups are establishing in every industry from healthcare to supply chain and logistics, finance to energy. Their goal is to encourage broad blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption.

The Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) is now working with over 60 companies to find and develop real-world applications for blockchain technology.

In February 2018, agricultural trading firms partnered with major banks to test the Easy Trading Connect (ETC) blockchain platform and BP and BTL partnered with others to test blockchain-based energy platforms.

These pilots will begin to turn into real-world applications as blockchain technology progresses.

Develop a cryptocurrency product or service

For any business with funds to invest in growth, developing a cryptocurrency product or service to take advantage of new markets is an opportunity.

Deloitte, for example, was quick to develop their own blockchain technology teams. Deloitte’s Blockchain Labs work with clients to turn their blockchain ideas into commercial applications. Deloitte has so far developed over 30 blockchain-related prototypes in everything from digital identity and payments use cases, to loyalty and reward schemes.

A Gartner survey back in 2017, of mostly small businesses, revealed that 19 percent were planning to use blockchain technology in the next 1-2 years. That was at a time when blockchain was still a very new idea in the wider business ecosystem.

Canadian Jewelry brand Birks recently partnered with BitPay to accept cryptocurrency payments and reach more international customers.

Financial advisors and fund managers are also quickly learning about cryptocurrency investing in order to advise new investors and offer new crypto-based investment products. For example, he Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute added blockchain and digital currency courses to its curriculum this summer to enable financial advisors to speak more knowledgeably on the new technologies to their customers.

Raise capital through an ICO or launch a token

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are an alternative to crowdfunding, or even equity fundraises through a venture capitalist or an IPO, as a way for new companies, especially those in fintech, to raise capital and launch their enterprises. Equally, established companies are also using ICOs to develop new markets and encourage investment.

Tokens and coin launches offer a way for companies to reward customers and launch their own “currencies” to be used for their products and services. Even e-commerce giant and Amazon rival Rakuten is launching its own cryptocurrency.  

Toronto-based startup Polymath specializes in helping companies to overcome regulatory hurdles and launch their own blockchain-based tokens and services.

Learn more about cryptocurrency or blockchain technology

The route into crypto and blockchain depends very much on the type of company considering the move, and the funds and tools available to them. These new methods of payment, transfer, and emerging blockchain technologies are truly applicable to any industry, so there are options to consider for any business. Joining a blockchain association or community, or simply attending a meetup to find out more, provides an opportunity for any size business to learn more about blockchain

As the sector matures these opportunities will grow and many firms may find they are compelled to get involved or risk being left behind.


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