Though the recent correction may have axed the value of cryptocurrencies in half – they are not down for the count. The cryptocurrency market is still valued at more than $295 billion. And as Rostin Behnam, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) recently stated: “These currencies are not going away, and they will proliferate to every economy and every part of the planet. We are witnessing a technological revolution. Perhaps we are witnessing a modern miracle.” Mentioned in today’s commentary includes: Shopify Inc (NYSE: SHOP), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC), Kodak (NYSE: KODK), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP).
And Benham is not alone in his view: the anticipated growth for the cryptocurrency market is simply staggering. Analysts from the Royal Bank of Canada have gone on record stating that the long-term value of the global cryptocurrency market could top $10 trillion in the years ahead. And one of the fastest growing “niches” within the global cryptocurrency market is crypto-ATMs.
Crypto-ATMs – where customers can simply walk up and trade cryptos, like a regular bank ATM – have exploded, doubling in 2017 alone. There are currently about 8,368 crypto-ATMs around the world.
Of those, Bitcoin ATMs make up 3,233 of the machines. And Bitcoin ATM sites are growing at a rate of 10 new machines a day. 76% of all the global crypto-ATMs are located in North America; the U.S. leads the way with 1,330 ATMs.
Forbes magazine called the Crypto-ATMs the “future of banking… an innovative solution to solve one of the world’s biggest problems – banking barriers.”
Crypto-currencies are being quickly adapted by folks historically shut out of traditional banking. And the rise of Crypto-ATMs is making access even faster and more convenient. And one company is making moves in an effort to dominate crypto-ATMs in the most underserved market in North America.
QPAGOS (QPAG) is a U.S. based payment systems company doing business in Mexico. They specialize in the creation, installation, maintenance, sales and rental of electronic payment kiosks. These kiosk locations allow customers to make transactions like paying bills or sending money – without having a bank account.
Here are 10 reasons why investors should consider looking more closely into shares of QPAGOS.
REASON 1: Mexico is a “Cryptocurrency Paradise”.
Overseas investing and travel site Escape Artist called Mexico a potential crypto-currency paradise, because: “No country on earth offers better access to Bitcoin and none offers the FIAT to crypto and crypto to FIAT exchange systems available in Mexico.”
Mexico boasts two major crypto-exchanges: Bitso and Volabit. And access to the crypto-exchanges is easy. Literally anyone can buy Bitcoin in Mexico – even if they don’t have a bank account. All transactions are handled within the crypto-universe.
Mexico averages about $6.52 million (MXN) of crypto transactions every single week. That’s $339,040,000 (MXN) worth of Bitcoin transactions per year. And that’s just the Bitcoin transactions – that doesn’t begin to count all the other crypto-currencies out there.
Combine the popularity of cryptos with the ability to go from crypto-to-cash or vice-versa – and Mexico would seem the ideal market for crypto-based ATM systems. Yet there are only 11 active ATM kiosks in the whole country. And this is where QPAGOS could have its biggest impact.
REASON 2: QPAGOS is adding 63 times more crypto ATMs to a Mexican market desperately in need of easy access
QPAGOS has the potential to completely transform the crypto ATM marketplace in Mexico. The company is already an established payment provider, with a network of 700 personal payment kiosks set up across Mexico. And now, every single one of these kiosks has the potential to become an approved Crypto ATM… multiplying the number of approved Crypto-ATMs by 63 times.
This one move could make QPAGOS one of the single largest providers of crypto-currency transactions, outside of the two big exchanges.
REASON 3: Mexico’s new crypto-regulations make it easy to use crypto-currencies to pay for every day goods and services
Mexico recently passed new rules regulating crypto-currencies. However, rather than reining in the use of cryptos, as South Korea did, the new regulations codify the use of cryptocurrencies into the law of the land.
According to Daniel Luévano, director of operations for the local Mexican crypto exchange ISBIT, thanks to the new regulations “The amount of money and transactions that can migrate to crypto and its technology is huge.”
And for QPAGOS, the law also establishes electronic payment companies as one of two “Financial Technology Institutions” sanctioned to conduct crypto transactions. Customers will be able to not only buy and sell Bitcoin and others, they’ll also be able to use its crypto-ATMs to pay for goods and services.
REASON 4: QPAGOS is in the business of filling major voids in traditional banking
Mexico is a mostly cash society. 65% of the population does not have a bank account. 80% of all retail payments are made in cash. One reason Mexico remains a cash-dominant society, as the rest of the world is moving away from cash, is that traditional banking in Mexico is highly inefficient.
As the Financial Times pointed out, “With long queues, high fees and low cash machine coverage, Mexican banks have a reputation for poor customer service.”
There are only 14 bank branches for every 100,000 residents (the U.S. boasts 33). The Mexican government’s National Survey of Financial Inclusion found that the average travel time to a bank branch was 42 minutes in rural areas and 22 minutes in urban settings. And QPAGOS has jumped into the void created by Mexico’s banks, with cutting edge technology for payment services.
QPAGOS’ 700 state-of-the-art digital kiosks allow customers to pay bills, cell phone accounts, car payments, etc., without ever involving traditional banks. And now, these same familiar kiosks will let customers buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies.
REASON 5: QPAGOS (QPAG) is already becoming a trusted source for quick and easy payment processing
Offering digital payment services to over 140 service providers, cash-centric Mexican citizens seem to be accepting QPAGOS as an easy, convenient way to avoid long travel times and longer lines, by simply using one of the companies 700 kiosks. And because QPAGOS has agreements with 140 mainstream service providers, customers can easily make payments for most services, including utilities, cable TV companies, and municipalities.
REASON 6: Mobile Convenience
Mexico has over 107 million mobile phone users – the second largest in Latin America. And nearly 90% rely on some form of pre-payment plan to stay connected – requiring the user to make a payment up front for mobile usage. “Top-ups” are traditionally done at retail locations, like supermarkets or convenience stores. Arrangements with the top mobile providers, including Nextel and AT&T, allow QPAGOS customers to avoid the hassles, and make quick and easy payments.
REASON 7: Multiple Sources of Revenue
QPAGOS makes money through multiple income streams. It receives fixed transaction fees on all payments processed; commissions and fees for processing payments to utilities, mobile, and transportation companies; customized kiosks for sales and rentals, such as Movistar. And it plans to soon be cashing in on a piece of Mexico’s $6.52 million (MXN) of weekly Bitcoin transactions.
REASON 8: Customization
The company’s kiosks can be customized to meet many different needs of many different clients. For instance, kiosks can be installed in retail locations, to make customer purchases easier and more convenient, eliminating long lines and retail-floor bottle-necks.
Banks and other institutions, virtually inaccessible to most citizens, can set up remote kiosks to reach more customers – as well letting customers make payments inside branches, relieving congestion at teller windows.
The potential market for QPAGOS payment kiosks is virtually endless. Ease of access is a great reason for this company to be given the okay to begin processing crypto-currency transactions to virtually all 700 of their existing, and future kiosk locations.
REASON 9: the number of digital transactions in Mexico is only going up
Digital spending in Mexico is expected to double over the next 3 years – ramping up from 7.19 million users to an expected 14.88 million by 2021. And in 2019, revenue generated by e-commerce is expected to climb to more than $40 billion USD. And QPAGOS seems perfectly positioned to carve off a slice of that $40 billion industry for itself.
REASON 10: All roads lead to INCREASING revenue
QPAGOS’ (QPAG) business model and multiple streams of income are paying off. The company is having a great 2018 so far. For the first quarter of the year, revenues jumped 58% year-over-year. And are up 37% from the previous quarter.
And the company continues to expand its services and locations across the country. Three new kiosks were installed in Observatorio station, one of Mexico City’s busiest Metro stations, with an average 77,205 passengers passing through every day. And as the crypto-ATM transactions ramp up, analysts are expecting to see this kind of growth accelerating in the months and years ahead.
U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The president’s poet woke up a superstar on Thursday, after a powerful reading at the U.S. inauguration catapulted 22-year-old Amanda Gorman to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.
Hours after Gorman’s electric performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two books – neither out yet – topped Amazon.com’s sales list.
“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” Gorman, a Los Angeles resident, wrote on Twitter.
Gorman’s debut poetry collection ‘The Hill We Climb’ won top spot in the online retail giant’s sale charts, closely followed by her upcoming ‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’.
While poetry’s popularity is on the up, it remains a niche market and the overnight adulation clearly caught Gorman short.
“Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: ‘For words alone are certain good: Sing, then’.”
Gorman, the youngest poet in U.S. history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country in Wednesday’s rendition.
“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.
“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”
The performance stirred instant acclaim, with praise from across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama.
“Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
A graduate of Harvard University, Gorman says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth and became the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
She has now joined the ranks of august inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Her social media reach boomed, with her tens of thousands of followers ballooning into a Twitter fan base of a million-plus.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” tweeted TV host Oprah Winfrey.
Gorman’s books are both due out in September.
Third on Amazon’s best selling list was another picture book linked to politics and projecting hope: ‘Ambitious Girl’ by Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape
By Justin Pike, Founder and Chairman, MYPINPAD
Delivery of intuitive, secure, personalised, and frictionless user experiences has long been table stakes in digital commerce, well before the era of COVID-19. As businesses harness the revolutionary power of digital technologies, they have pursued large-scale change to adapt to evolving consumer preferences (some more successfully than others, but that’s a blog for another day). Digital transformation is a term we hear repeatedly, and it looks different for each organisation, but essentially, it’s about utilising technology and data to digitise, automate, innovate and improve processes and the customer experience across the entire business.
As I said, this was already well underway but then came 2020 and no industry escaped the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, which has had an indelible impact on businesses performance, operations, and revenue. Regardless of whether the impact of COVID has been very positive or very challenging, it has forced organisations globally to re-evaluate and re-orient strategies to adapt.
As lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions continue to change daily life, this raises the question of how we can balance a dramatic shift to digital and the benefits it brings, while ensuring business continuity and innovation both during and post-COVID, and protecting everyone against fraud?
Digital is an essential survival tool, and even more so in a COVID world
No one could have predicted the dramatic digital pivot that has taken place over this year. Indeed, within weeks of the COVID outbreak cash usage in the UK dropped by around 50%. Digital solutions including delivery applications, contactless payments, mobile commerce, online and mobile banking have become essential components of a touchless customer experience in the era of social distancing. It’s no longer just about an enhanced and superior customer experience, it’s also about health, safety and survival.
In store, businesses have benefited from contactless payments enabling faster throughput and reduced need for consumers to touch payment terminals (therefore requiring greater cleaning, which degrades the hardware much faster). Mastercard reported a 40% increase in contactless payments – including tap-to-pay and mobile pay – during the first quarter of the year as the global pandemic worsened. Digital has also become an essential sales channel for many B2C brands. Where brick and mortar stores have been required to close, digital commerce enables continuity of customer relationships and revenue. This channel also provides brands with rich customer data, which can be used to enhance and personalise the customer experience and typically results in greater levels of engagement and uplifts in revenue.
Industry forecasts estimate that worldwide spending on the technologies and services enabling digital transformation will reach GBP 1.8 trillion in 2023 – a clear indication that the process represents a long-term investment and a global commitment to digital-first strategy. The key point here is that digital brings significant benefits, and regardless of COVID, is here to stay.
The challenges that rapid digital transformation brings to businesses
Regardless of whether businesses are operating in developed or less-developed economies, these times of crisis have levelled the playing field in the sense that all businesses are facing similar issues. Access to products and supplies, maintaining customer relationships, accelerating sales for some and declining sales for others, health and hygiene are just a few of the unique challenges brought about by COVID.
Many businesses in physical environments have had to swiftly implement changes to significantly reduce safety risks for staff and customers, such as contactless payments, mobile ordering and delivery options. But with these changes come a host of other benefits of digitisation, such as faster transactions, and reduced human error at the point-of-sale.
The reliance on technology, however, can also expose organisations and consumers to certain vulnerabilities. In particular, the risks of fraud and cybercrime have dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic as scammers have taken advantage of digital technologies to target both businesses and individuals.
As a McKinsey report illustrates, new levels of sophistication in the activities of fraudsters have placed more pressure on companies that have been previously slow to go digital, bringing “into sharp relief how vulnerable companies really are”, and damaging the financial health of small and large businesses. In fact, the Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer reveals that only one in 10 small businesses across the UK report recovering more than 50% of losses due to fraud.
But take these stats with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of the risks and challenges this new business landscape brings, it’s equally as important to have a lens firmly across your own business, industry and audience, and to identify the changes you can make internally to mitigate risk as well as improve your customer experience. Where can you make some quick wins? Do you have the right skillsets internally to achieve what you need to achieve? What technology is out there that will enable your business goals? There are tech companies like MYPINPAD that are making huge strides in software development, which will transform businesses globally.
A digital world post-COVID
Almost a year in, the line between business success and failure remains fragile. However, an ongoing transition towards greater digitisation will be the difference between survival and the alternative.
There is a wide range of initiatives businesses can implement to weather this storm. If we look at the space MYPINPAD operates within, secure digital consumer authentication is crucial to the ongoing success and security of not only financial products but also identification and verification across a range of different industry verticals. Shifting the authentication of consumers securely onto mobile devices enables businesses to completely reshape their customer experiences. By bringing together a more seamless, frictionless customer experience, accessibility, privacy, security and access to consumer data, businesses are able to drive digital transformation across day-to-day activities.
Against this backdrop, software with stronger security standards continue to play an ever more vital role in supporting society, protecting consumers and businesses from the increase in risks that rapid digitisation brings. Already, merchants can deploy PIN on Mobile technology from companies like MYPINPAD, onto their smart devices to speed up the digitisation process many are now tackling.
Essentially, opening up universal payments and authentication methods that feel familiar, for both online and face-to-face transactions, will be key to opening up a world of possibilities when it comes to redefining how businesses engage with consumers.
Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says
LONDON (Reuters) – Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.
British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days.
“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.
The Northern Irish protocol means there are “a certain amount of checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland and that involves some disruption,” he said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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