The pandemic-driven acceleration towards a digital society came about just as the cryptocurrency markets were starting to gear up for their next big bull run. And unlike 2017, when most projects consisted of nothing more than a token, a white paper, and a vaguely marketable pitch, things are different this time around. The serious entrepreneurs and innovators in the burgeoning cryptocurrency space have now had several years to develop apps and services that are both operational and offer value.
What’s more, the progress towards digitization that’s happened over the last half a decade means that the world is now far more ready for the idea of digital currencies. Banks, governments, and enterprises are all firmly engaged with various iterations of blockchain and crypto. Put simply, the time is right.
As a result, we’re starting to see cryptocurrencies become more accessible, usable, and embedded in our everyday lives. PayPal now allows US users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, but most critically, to pay using crypto at any of its 20 million active merchants. Recently, the company announced it was expanding its cryptocurrency offering to UK customers, indicating it could ultimately roll out the services to all 361 million of its global users. Amazon also recently sparked speculation that it could soon start accepting crypto payments after the company posted a job ad suggesting it was hiring a specialist in the field.
Elsewhere, established enterprises and cryptocurrency projects alike are now beginning to find ways to leverage crypto as part of our newly digital lifestyles. In many ways, it’s offering a more attractive alternative to mainstream offerings.
Feeding the Appetite for Food Delivery
Many of us came to rely heavily on food delivery services during the pandemic, using apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash, or Deliveroo to dine on our favorite restaurant food at home. But we pay heavily for it. One investigation by the New York Times found that the markup on a meal ordered via delivery apps was as much as 91% compared to ordering it via the outlet directly.
Many people would point out that they’re more than happy to take a hit if it means they can support their local restaurants during the challenges they’ve faced over the pandemic. But restaurants aren’t doing particularly well out of the deal either. Restaurateurs cite the high costs to their business, and it’s worth pointing out that the food delivery apps are data companies first and foremost – they make money from selling the data of the customers of their restaurant network.
Bistroo is a community-focused food delivery platform based in the Netherlands. It launched in 2020 to connect foodservice operators and communities and has had runaway success in its home country with an extremely timely launch in March 2020. By the end of the year, it had reached over $1 million in orders processed across a 200-strong merchant network.
The project now operates its own token, BIST, which allows customers to purchase their meals at a discount compared to paying with fiat. They can also earn rewards for activities like leaving a rating. In line with its community-focused approach, Bistroo facilitates the connection and relationship between outlet and customer.
The team is planning to expand its service globally, starting with the EU, in the next twelve months. It also plans to launch new features on the platform, such as allowing users to invest in their favorite eateries.
Eat Crypto, Sleep Crypto, Shop Crypto
Travel may have been largely on hold during the pandemic, but it’s another area of our lifestyle where crypto is creeping in. Like food delivery, travel is currently dominated by the big online booking platforms like Booking.com and Expedia. However, Travala is the world’s leading blockchain-based travel booking platform, offering access to over two million properties in 230 countries.
The company claims to offer prices up to 40% cheaper than its mainstream competitors, and holders of its native AVA cryptocurrency can use it to pay for bookings, redeem loyalty rewards, and earn bonuses.
It’s not just in the area of paying for goods and services that crypto is making inroads into our everyday lives. High-end shoppers pay top dollar to attire themselves in Louis Vuitton, Prada, or Tiffany. Thanks to the work of the Aura Blockchain Consortium, which is comprised of several luxury brands, they can look forward to an additional blockchain-based stamp of authenticity on their purchases. It provides another way for brands to differentiate themselves from lower-end competitors and gives consumers another way to brandish the exclusivity of their luxury goods.
Another example of projects rewarding users in crypto is Axie Infinity – the blockchain-based game that’s currently smashing all records and handling over a million players each day. For the benefit of the uninitiated, players of Axie Infinity breed and battle creatures called Axies for rewards in the form of crypto.
According to some reports, the game experienced a surge in players who were seeking income after losing their jobs in the pandemic and are earning up to $500 per month in crypto rewards. Axie Infinity’s developers recently pulled in a $4.6 million investment led by a16z, the digital investment arm of Andreessen Horowitz, positioning it to become the first blockchain game to go mainstream.
Adoption has long been the goal of the cryptocurrency community, so seeing crypto become deeply embedded into our everyday lives is promising news for the future of the space. It seems that this time around, crypto has finally reached its tipping point and could soon be as ubiquitous as the internet is today.