Bitcoin Comes to Whole Foods and Other Major Retailers
Flexa recently announced the launch of its new mobile payment app, SPEDN, that will allow users to spend ETH, BTC, BCH, and the Gemini Dollar as easily as it is to use Apple Pay. Flexa revealed that SPEDN was created in partnership with Gemini exchange and that the app is currently supported by retailers such as Whole Foods, Gamestop, and Baskin Robbins. Starbucks was not included in the announcement but has also began accepting SPEDN payments. According to its website, there are 30,475 total stores registered with Flexa.
The SPEDN app is already available in the iPhone App Store and is coming soon to Android.
SocGen Tests Issuance of Debt via Digital Token
Societe Generale SA issued 100 million euros worth of covered bonds to itself via digital tokens that were registered on the Ethereum blockchain last month. This represents the latest successful test of blockchain technology’s potential for facilitating security transactions. Currently, these types of covered-bond transactions take up to two business days to process. However, if it becomes apparent that digital tokens can be transacted faster and with lower fees, some argue there is a real possibility that the 2 trillion euro covered-bonds market eventually goes digital. On top of that, security tokens can be used for other assets such as real estate and stocks. At that point, the digital-asset firm Finoa believes security tokens could capture $24 trillion in market value among various asset classes.
Note: Securitize, one of the most well-known platforms for issuing security tokens, recently decided to make its software open-source. Doing so will provide developers with greater functionality and make it easier to build applications on top of their platform. It is another positive development for security tokens in general as greater transparency will ultimately increase token liquidity and improve user experience.
Facebook Forms Swiss FinTech Firm
Facebook has recently introduced a new fintech company, Libra Networks, based in Switzerland. The company will provide financial services and technology services to its customers, according to a Swiss register. Currently, Facebook has not yet commented in detail on this endeavor. Facebook is rumored to be exploring the idea of its crypto token, though nothing has been made official.
Starbucks Wants to Track Coffee on the Blockchain
Starbucks and Microsoft are working together on a new blockchain development which is reported to “record all changes along the journey of the coffee on a shared ledger, providing participants with a ‘more complete view’ of the supply chain”. The service would aim to provide more transparency to customers, while simultaneously giving insights to growers as to where their products end up. Starbucks is currently talking to farmers in Rwanda, Colombia, and Costa Rica about how this new service could benefit them.
Fidelity, TD Ameritrade to Offer Crypto Trading Services
Financial services firm, Fidelity, and stock brokerage firms, E-Trade and TD Ameritrade, are preparing for a launch of their own cryptocurrency trading services. Fidelity is reported to release this system within a “few weeks”, as of May 6th. A release of Fidelity’s service would reach over 11 million investors.
IRS to release Crypto Tax Guidance
As cryptocurrency platforms continue to expand, the IRS has stated that it will soon be providing guidance on the tax implications of such products. Legislation has been slow to adapt but according to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, “acceptable methods for calculating cost basis, acceptable methods of cost basis assignment, and the tax treatment of forks” will be released in-depth soon.
Montana will Exempt Utility Tokens from Securities Regulations
The state of Montana has recently announced that it will exempt utility tokens from securities laws in an effort to increase the number of ways consumers can provide or receive goods or services. Tokens used for speculative or investment purposes are prohibited in this new legislation. Issuers of utility tokens must still provide information with the securities commissioner to receive approval. Other crypto-friendly states in the United States currently include Wyoming and Colorado.
Coinbase is Letting Merchants Accept Payments in USDC Stablecoin
Coinbase recently announced the release of a new stablecoin, USDC, pegged to the US dollar. The USD Coin was well received as it gives users the ability to convert between the Dollar and non-fiat crypto assets much faster and cheaper than was previously possible on Coinbase. Other exchanges have already offered similar tokens such as Tether (USDT), but the USDC is considered more regulated and, therefore, trustworthy.
Fast forward a few weeks, and Coinbase announced that businesses will soon be able to receive USDC payments from customers “with zero transaction fees” and no chargebacks. Furthermore, merchants can accept USD Coin “without geographical limitations or the need for a traditional bank account,” as per the exchange.
However, Coinbase is still facing its fair share of challenges— its former Chief Operating Officer, Asiff Hirji just announced his resignation. He is the 6th C-suite level executive to depart the company in the last two years.
TransferWise Doubles its Valuation to $3.5B
TransferWise has announced a new $292 million round of investments that pushes the company valuation to over $3.5 billion— more than double the valuation achieved from its 2017 Series E. However, TransferWise did not actually receive any proceeds from this round. Instead, new investors such as Lead Edge Capital, Lone Pine Capital and Vitruvian Partners acquired equity from existing shareholders looking to capture profits.