Opera Browser Partners With Payment Processor Simplex; Allows Users to Buy Crypto with Fiat

Opera Browser Partners With Payment Processor Simplex; Allows Users to Buy Crypto with Fiat

  • Renowned browser, Opera, has partnered with crypt-fiat solutions offeror, Simplex, to promote the adoption of cryptos via allowing direct in-browser buys.
  • Opera users will henceforth be allowed to buy cryptos directly from the browser after integrating with the Israeli-based crypto-fiat processor Simplex. The partnership will also allow Opera users to create crypto wallets for storage of the newly-bought digital assets.

Simply known as crypto on-ramp, the service allows users to use their fiat to purchase crypto and is helpful for fresh crypto users. The new deal comes on the heel of various financial institutions now using Bitcoin and other cryptos and the prices going up in the recent past.

Simplex marketing head, Rachel Siegman, explained that the partnership with Opera, one of the most popular browsers in the world, will make on-ramping widely accessible which is a plus for the crypto space. Siegman explained,

“Current Opera users can onramp using their debit or credit card with Simplex and Simplex users can now use the secure and instant payments on Opera.”

Simplex was started in 2014 and prides itself as a firm that has been altering the status quo when it comes to crypto on/off ramps. The firm said it is determined to enhance the mass adoption of cryptos.

Simplex explained that the partnership with Opera comes at a time when retail investors are yearning for simple ways of entering the crypto industry after an impressive bull run that has caught the world by surprise. Siegman stated that now retail users can open a wallet without the need of leaving the browser, purchase their digital assets, sell, or hodl. She explained:

“Now Opera users can access Simplex’s extensive range of supported cryptocurrencies from within the browser wallet itself, and move between fiat and cryptocurrency with ease, enjoying competitive rates.”

Recently, Simplex hit another milestone after being added as a principal member of Visa within the Eurozone. This means that the firm can now provide fiat to crypto services to individuals that want to use their crypto for regular payments.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

State Bank of India Joins JPMorgan’s Ethereum-Forked Blockchain Payment Network, Liink

State Bank of India Joins JPMorgan’s Ethereum-Forked Blockchain Payment Network, Liink

State Bank of India (SBI), the largest bank in India, has announced a partnership with US bank JPMorgan to use its blockchain-based technology to enhance international transactions.

The government-owned bank explained that the partnership would help reduce transaction costs and time to execute customers’ payments. The bank stated that it would take hours to execute international payments and not the usual two weeks. The bank also stated that beneficiaries will now get their payments faster as it will involve fewer steps.

Venkat Nageswar, SBI deputy managing director, explained that the bank has been undertaking various digital transformations in the recent past and is keen to add more to enhance their daily operations. Nageswar told India’s Economic Times,

“We are excited to be the first bank in India to go live on the network and look forward to a closer partnership with JP Morgan on implementation and exploring applications as part of the network to better serve our clients.”

JPMorgan’s blockchain-based network, dubbed Liink, is a decentralized network where numerous financial firms, fintech firms, and other corporations can subscribe. The network enables the users to conduct secure and peer-to-peer data interchanges at fast speeds. It was started in 2017 being dubbed Interbank Information Network, but it rebranded to Liink in October last year.

Currently, over 400 financial-based institutions and corporates have subscribed to Liink from 78 nations. The enlisted firms include 27 of the globe’s top-ranking 50 banks. The network boasts of about 100 live banks consisting of private and government-owned institutions.

JPMorgan Chase India managing director, Prabdev Singh, explained that the recent deal with SBI is in tandem with its program to enhance its blockchain presence within India and the region. Singh stated that the firm is continually exploring how the new technologies can change customers’ experiences positively.

Apart from changing its name to Liink, JPMorgan also rolled out its own stablecoin dubbed JPM Coin last year. The stablecoin was launched to enhance international payments.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Janet Yellen Torches Bitcoin Again, Calls it ‘Extremely Inefficient’ As A Payment Option

Janet Yellen Torches Bitcoin Again, Calls it ‘Extremely Inefficient’ As A Payment Option

U.S. Treasury Secretary is rooting for a digital dollar, but remains unconvinced about Bitcoin, which she describes as an inefficient asset.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is not backing down with her criticism of Bitcoin. Yellen has gone on to describe the leading cryptocurrency as an “extremely inefficient” and “highly speculative asset.”

Bitcoin is Dangerous

Yellen commented at the New York Times’ “DealBook” conference, where she spoke on the country’s road to recovery post-covid-19.

Yellen had previously served as Federal Reserve chair under the Obama administration, having been appointed to replace Ben Bernanke from 2014 to 2018. She makes history as the first woman to be appointed as Treasury Secretary.

Her comments come as Bitcoin witnessed a sharp decline in prices, shedding off around $11,000 to $47K on Bitstamp. Bitcoin bounced back some moments later, regaining support and climbing back up to $51,500.

For Yellen, Bitcoin’s issues trump its benefits. While she acknowledges the role cryptocurrencies play in the financial system by creating quicker payment methods, she believes they have numerous problems. She raised concerns around its legitimacy and stability as an asset, bashing Bitcoin for its illicit financing links.

“People should beware it can be extremely volatile, and I do worry about potential losses that investors could suffer…I fear it’s often for illicit finance. It’s an extremely inefficient way to conduct transactions.”

Yellen also hinted at the possibility of the Federal Reserve hopping on the central bank digital currency (CBDC) bandwagon. While countries like China and Russia are making headway with their CBDCs, the U.S. has remained indecisive and is still unsure of what it plans to do.

Crypto’s Criminal Links

For Treasury Secretary Yellen, there’s one awful smell that hangs around cryptocurrencies—criminality. The crypto market should have gotten used to Yellen’s negative crypto comments by now. It has become a recurring theme with the high-ranking official. Earlier this month, she raised the alarm on how bitcoin was being abused for illicit purposes at a financial sector innovation roundtable. Yellen explained at the event,

“I see the promise of these new technologies, but I also see the reality: cryptocurrencies have been used to launder the profits of online drug traffickers; they’ve been a tool to finance terrorism.”

While cryptos like Bitcoin and Ether are attractive to criminals due to their pseudonymous nature, recent studies from researchers show the tides are changing. Research from famed blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis revealed a decline in crypto-related crimes in 2020. The share of criminal activity was roughly $21.4 billion in 2019 of all crypto transaction volume, according to Chainalysis. That figure fell to 0.34$ or $10 billion in total transaction volume. Chainalysis believes the identification of criminal wallet addresses was a major catalyst for the drop in numbers.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Diem’s New Payment Solution With FireBlocks & First DAG Hints at a Possible Late 2021 Launch

Diem’s New Payment Solution With FireBlocks & First DAG Hints at a Possible Late 2021 Launch

Diem, formerly known as the Libra Association, announces a partnership with Fireblocks and the Israeli-based First Digital Asset Group (DAG) to launch a payment solution for institutions, merchants, and payment networks. The network is expected to power Diem into the largest payment network, allowing global financial institutions to connect to the system directly.

In a joint release from a crypto custodian, Fireblocks and First DAG, the new payment solution will be launched in the coming six months. It will allow financial institutions, banks, PSPs, merchants, and e-wallets to connect and facilitate transactions on the Diem network as soon as it launches.

The Facebook-led Diem Network was unveiled back in 2019, offering a multi-currency-backed stablecoin and global payment system. However, regulators worldwide are skeptical of Diem’s role in the global monetary policies – given the 2.8 billion customers that Facebook and WhatsApp have on their platforms.

The new project will be integrated on First DAG and Fireblocks, giving access to payment stations and merchants who will use Diem. According to First CEO, Ran Goldi the payment solution will allow merchants to accept stablecoins and Diem without ever interacting with the tokens. First will deal with the payment backstage details while the merchant receives their payment in their local currency. Goldi said,

“So if you are a merchant and you are already working with a payment service provider (PSP) that we have integrated with, you will able to accept Diem without any integrations.”

Notwithstanding, the platform will be fully compliant and collect any customer information needed – similar to regulated payment services such as PayPal and Visa. The platform will follow a strict onboarding process for custodians, wallets, exchanges, PSPs, and other VASPs operating on Diem, Michael Shaulov, Fireblocks’ CEO, said.

Spotify, a member of the Diem Network, moves to integrate the Diem payment solution in the near future. In December, the popular streaming app announced a vacant position of “Payment Strategist” in the Diem and Crypto space.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Blockchain Payment Firm, Wyre, Gets A $5M Investment From Stellar Development Foundation

Blockchain Payment Firm, Wyre, Gets A $5M Investment From Stellar Development Foundation

In a press statement shared with BitcoinExchangeGuide, the foundation stated that it is investing $5 million worth of Enterprise Funds that will help introduce various payment application programming interfaces, commonly known as APIs, which can integrate with different apps within the Stellar ecosystem.

The foundation also explained that on/off ramps for Stellar USDC will also be rolled on for the existing fiat pairs consisting of USD, GBP, CAD, AUS, and EUR.

Founded in 2013, Wyre has executed transfers of more than $5 billion and provides advanced services to both businesses and individuals such as crypto to fiat ramps, crypto wallet infrastructure, savings account, and foreign exchange others.

The foundation stated that the addition of Wyre to the Stellar network would help create crucial payment infrastructure and allow for relationships that will connect to the international financial system.

“Growing the network of Stellar anchors— stablecoin issuers and on/off ramps — is fundamental to how Stellar connects global financial systems with blockchain technology. Bringing Wyre’s industry-leading payment APIs to the Stellar ecosystem will empower businesses, especially anchors, to expand existing payment corridors and develop new ones.”

Denelle Dixon Stellar Development Foundation CEO

Dixon is also set to become a member of Wyre’s board of directors to represent Stellar Foundation.

With Stellar USDC set to go live in Q1, Wyre will help in different ways. Wyre is set to offer a compliant and safe way for apps within the Stellar ecosystem to use the dollar-pegged stablecoin without the developers’ need to create additional tools, the statement elaborated.

Stellar’s Enterprise Fund was launched last year, and Wyre’s investment is the first one for this year. Cumulatively the fund has pumped more than $14 million in different companies and projects so far, including Abra, Settle Network, SatoshiPay, and DSTOQ.

Stellar Foundation’s chief operating officer, Jason Chilpala, explained that the Enterprise Fund was started to offer support to businesses with goals in tandem with Stellar’s, such as enabling cheap and reliable cross-border payments.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Circle Secures Major Partnership With Visa to Provide Seamless USDC Payments

Payment processor VISA is improving its presence in the crypto space. The firm has partnered with Circle Internet Financial to facilitate USDC payments for select VISA users.

Easy Payments for Individuals and Businesses

VISA’s partnership with USDC will initially start with selected users, the firm’s Head of Crypto Cuy Sheffield explained on Twitter. The end game is to help users make seamless USDC transactions.

Businesses will also be able to make cross-border payments using their USDC balances.

USDC’s operator Circle would also join the Fast Track program, VISA’s launchpad initiative that allows businesses to leverage its network’s speed to get up and running quickly. VISA estimates that Circle will graduate from the program sometime next year, following which the former will issue a credit card that allows businesses to send and receive USDC-based payments directly.

Speaking on the initiative, Sheffield, said that the firm is looking to become a “network of networks.” He added:

“We see significant potential for stablecoins like USDC to help our clients enable new payment flows and are committed to helping them become integrated into the payments ecosystem in a secure and convenient way”

VISA Strengthens Crypto Ties

The news follows another significant partnership from VISA. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the credit card manufacturer had partnered with BlockFi, one of the top crypto loans and savings providers, to launch a Bitcoin rewards card.

As the report explained, the new credit card will reward buyers with Bitcoin, instead of cashback rewards, airline miles, or other conventional channels. Cardholders can get up to 1.5 percent of their purchases in Bitcoin.

The cards will carry a $200 annual maintenance fee, and they will be issued by the Evolve Bank & Trust. It is expected to be available to the public in early 2021, although BlockFi users can sign up for it before then. Like the Circle partnership, this is also a part of VISA’s Fast track program.

The payment processor appears to be gearing up for more crypto partnerships, especially since regulators have put a snag on its acquisition of financial services firm Plaid. Last Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a complaint against VISA, alleging that it was committing antitrust violations in its Plaid acquisition.

In part, the complaint alleged that VISA was looking to purchase Plaid as an “insurance policy” to neutralize any threats to its U.S. debit business. The DOJ added that the acquisition could see VISA easily eliminate nascent competitive risks that could help customers at the detriment of its market share.

VISA announced its blockbuster $5.3 billion Plaid acquisition in January. Since then, however, the latter had been embroiled in several lawsuits over its misuse of data. With the DOJ complaint not putting a hold on things, this deal looks dead in the water.

A few of the other Crypto to VISA connection in recent months includes ZenGo, Binance, Coinbase, and Paxful. This list also included crypto lender Cred, which filed for bankruptcy last month.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

BlockFi Partners with Visa to Launch Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card in 2021

Cryptocurrency startup BlockFi has partnered with payment processor giant Visa to launch a credit card that rewards purchases with BTC rather than cash or airline miles.

The card is expected to be made available in early 2021, and initially, the service will be offered only in the US.

The company has already launched the waitlist for the “world’s first” Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card.

To be issued by Evolve Bank & Trust, the users of the Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card will receive 1.5% on an accrual basis on every transaction made through the card. This will then be converted to Bitcoin and placed into the account of the BlockFi every month.

If a user spent more than $3,000 the first time, a lump sum of $250 in the digital asset would be credited. The card also comes with a $200 annual fee.

“We’re excited to add credit cards to our suite of products and expand Bitcoin’s accessibility to a broader set of consumers,” said Zac Prince, chief executive officer and founder at BlockFi.

Bitcoin has rallied more than 160% in 2020, having surged to a new all-time high.

Earlier this year, Visa also joined startup Fold to offer a debit card that earns rewards in cryptocurrency. In February, Visa and Coinbase announced a debit card that allows users to spend BTC.

Besides announcing a Bitcoin reward credit card, BlockFi also reported another “record-breaking month of interest payouts.”

BlockFi’s clients earned more than 10 million in interest in November, including over 300 in BTC, 3500 in ETH, and 2 million in stablecoins.

BEG and BlockFi have teamed up to offer new users a bonus signing up and start earning by putting your crypto to work.

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Author: AnTy

China’s Digital Currency to Roll-Out In A Second City After Successful Trials In Shenzhen

  • The second city in China is launching a lottery to test its digital currency/electronic payment (DC/EP) project, a local report states.

On Monday, local Chinese media The Paper reported that the district of Suzhou in Xiangcheng would launch a lottery to give away the country’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) in a bid to test the real-use cases of the digital currency. The ‘red envelop’ lottery is set to launch on December 12th across the city, a date known as Double 12 across China, and an end-year shopping festival.

The report said the lottery would be released similar to the one carried out in the city of Shenzhen in mid-October. In Shenzhen, the endeavor was a highly successful one, with over 50,000 participants winning 200 digital yuan each – totaling approximately $1.5 million. A later report confirms that over 95% of the digital yuan distributed were used in two weeks, stretching to over 3000 stores that accept the digital currency.

The city was chosen given the large prevalence of installed near-field communication (NFC) and QR code point-of-sales across merchant stores. Suzhou’s DC/EP trial is also set to introduce several new features not used in Shenzhen’s trial phase, such as the offline payment feature and the smartphone touch functions.

China’s DC/EP project will also launch a trial in Chengdu, which is preparing in anticipation by installing the NFC and QR codes point-of-sales. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) also announced plans to launch the DC/EP project in the Winter Olympics venue in 2022.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitcoin ‘May Have Extrinsic Value In The Sense That People Want It’ Says BoE Governor

Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey cautioned over the use of Bitcoin as a means of payment on Monday.

He said he was “very nervous” about people using the leading digital currency for payments because it has uncertain value. Investors should realize that its price is extremely volatile, he said during a BoE question and answer sessions with the public.

He further talked about how the digital currency has little intrinsic value if any. “I have to be honest, it is hard to see that Bitcoin has what we tend to call intrinsic value,” said Bailey.

“It may have extrinsic value in the sense that people want it.”

The intrinsic value of bitcoin remains a central topic of debate amongst bitcoin skeptics and believers.

Read More: BTC Scales Just Fine As A Store Of Value Says MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor

Recently, cryptocurrency exchange Kraken in a report dedicated to this subject, talked about how intrinsic value, much like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.

“As time passes and bitcoin continues to navigate through uncharted waters, the intrinsic value of bitcoin will also likely change and as a result, so will its market value.”

However, Bailey snubbing Bitcoin isn’t anything new; it has actually been going on for years, even when BTC was at its peak. Just last month, he said, Bitcoin and other crypto-assets have no connection to money, whatsoever, citing its price fluctuation.

“They strike me as fundamentally unsuited to the world of payments where a certainty of value matters,” he had said at that time.

He, however, did feel that stablecoins could offer some useful benefits once consumers could use them with confidence, that is. Fiat-backed cryptos, according to him, can reduce friction in payments by lowering the cost and increasing the speed of payments.

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Author: AnTy

Ant Group Launches Blockchain-Powered Cross-border Trade Settlement Platform ‘Trusple’

Ant Group, owner of mobile payment app Alipay, launched a blockchain-powered platform for cross-border trade settlements this week. The move came ahead of its IPO, which it plans to list in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s STAR Market next month simultaneously.

The 16-year old giant, which is backed by e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group, is seeking to raise about $35 billion in the dual IPO to become the world’s largest IPO by surpassing oil giant Saudi Aramco’s billion last December.

Previously known as Ant Financial, Ant was rebranded this year as a tech firm due to tighter financial regulations.

Ant is known for submitting the most number of blockchain patent applications globally, over the past two years. The technology saw a surge in interest after President Xi Jinping said last year that the country should accelerate its development.

Its new platform, “Trusple,” is based on Antchain, the company’s blockchain technology.

On this platform, buyers and sellers upload their orders, which automatically generate smart contracts with information like logistics. The banks then process payments using Antchain.

The users of the platform could also include vendors that sell to other businesses through marketplaces like Alibaba’s overseas e-commerce site, AliExpress.

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Author: AnTy