Over 50% of world will use mobile wallets by 2025

Boku, a mobile payments company, has recently published a study indicating that more than half the world’s population will be using a mobile wallet by 2025. At the moment mobile wallet usage is at around the 2.7 billion mark, but in four year’s time it could be 4.8 billion.

Usage is growing fastest in Southeast Asia, which has shown a 25.5% CAGR and an expected overall growth of 311% in the next five years. E-commerce is driving this growth alongside app such as Grab and Gojek, and the biggest rise in numbers of users is in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Southeast Asia is followed in growth terms by Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Growth is particularly high in those areas where wallets offer access to financial services for the unbanked. In Africa and the Middle East, usage of mobile wallets is expected to grow by 166% and 147%, respectively, by 2025. Growth in both these regions is being catalysed by the increasing usage of mobile money services, such as M-Pesa, which are offering improved access to e-commerce.

In those world regions where people already have relatively easy access to financial services, such as in North America and Western Europe, the growth in mobile wallet use is much slower. Uptake is only expected to be 65% (North America) and 50% (Western Europe) by 2025.

Nevertheless, markets such as the UK are seeing a spike in card-based mobile wallets, due to the adoption of contactless spurred on by the pandemic, and Boku believes that three quarters of Europeans will be using a digital wallet by 2025.

“We are witnessing a paradigm shift in payments driven by mobile wallets,” says Jon Prideaux, CEO at Boku. “Mobile wallets have lowered the barrier to making digital payments and ushered billions of new consumers into e-commerce. These consumers are not in North America or Western Europe, they are in emerging markets, and while they don’t have credit cards, they overwhelmingly have mobile wallets. For global merchants, mobile payment acceptance is not about accepting one type of mobile wallet or another, but ensuring that consumers in every market will have the required selection on payment types in order to monetize transactions.”

UK is the winner in European fintech funding

Perhaps this news will perk up those England supporters who are living with defeat to Italy at Euro2020, especially if they also happen to be fans of the fintech industry. The UK Fintech State of the Nation report from Innovate Finance shows that London “has cemented its position as the fintech capital of Europe,” despite the double whammy of a global pandemic and Brexit.

According to the data in the first half of 2021, the UK fintech sector raised $5.7bn. This is 34% higher than the $4.3bn raised in 2020 and breaks the 2019 record of $4.6bn.

Who benefited from this rush to invest in UK-based fintechs?

SaltPay and Checkout.com attracted the two largest deals made this year, with $500 million and $450 million respectively. At the moment these are the biggest fintech investments ever in the UK. SaltPay is focused on building a better payments system for merchants, whilst Checkout.com is a global payments platform aimed at offering more payment methods and currencies for online businesses. They’re similar but different, and it is worth noting that both aim to make life easier for merchants.

Indeed, ‘payment’ platforms appear to be dominating the sector here. But challenger bank Starling also got a hefty influx of funds ($376m) and crypto trading platform Blockchain.com received $300m. There has also been significant interest in more niche fintechs, such as Smart Pension, a pension and payroll tech provider, which received $230m, and PayFit, a platform that simplifies and automates payroll and HR processes for small and medium-​sized businesses, raised $107m. Credit-scoring specialist ClearScore raised $200m, another sizeable investment,

In 2021 the number of firms making deals of above $100m also rose from 10 in 2019 to 13 in the first half of 2021, so we can expect that figure to be much higher by the end of this year, and it will be interesting to see by just how much it grows.

Of course the USA is still ahead of the UK, but it is the only country that is. The report shows the levels of support for those other countries that come closest to the two leaders during the same time period: Brazil (40 deals and $3bn), Germany (56 deals and $2.5bn) and India (132 deals and $2.2bn).

Janine Hirt, CEO of Innovate Finance, commented: “Fintech is one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy and has a vital role to play in the UK’s economic and business recovery. It is hugely encouraging to see evidence of this resilience and growth, particularly in light of the uncertainty and challenges brought on by 2020. Both the flow of capital and a wide talent pool are essential to maintaining the sector’s strength, and we remain committed to supporting efforts in these vital areas.”

You can read the full report here.

Smart investors check out a crypto’s utility

There are somewhere in the region of 4,000 cryptocurrencies to invest in, each representing a different blockchain project. When investment experts look at the array available, they don’t base their choice on price, they look at the utility.

When the exeperts talk about Utility, they are referring to digital tokens built on a specific blockchain ecosystem – most often based on Ethereum’s ERC-20 standard – which grants token holders certain rights. As Katharine Wooller, UK and Ireland managing director at crypto wealth-building platform Dacxi told Rich McEachran, “Any cryptocurrency is only as good as its use case.”

There is a tendency amongst investors to buy Bitcoin simply because it is the most famous cryptocurrency. But Bitcoin’s utility is limited to promoting financial inclusion and cross border payments. Ethereum on the other hand is the preferred ecosystem for building cryptocurrency projects. So, it is not hard to figure out which of the two has more long-term potential.

One of the issues facing investors, particularly retail investors, is that the digital assets they hear the most about and are therefore drawn to, are the “cryptocurrencies addressing or solving specific problems on a macro level,” says Roman Matkovskyy, an associate professor in finance and accounting at Rennes School of Business. But there are many, many more that offer solutions to more ‘micro’ questions. As Wooller says, “it’s essential to do your homework and spend time researching and analysing a coin’s long-term intended use,” usually via the project’s white paper that should be freely available online.

Of course, a coin may appear to have great utility, but that doesn’t guarantee it will be successful. What is required for that to occur, is demand for the coin’s ecosystem. Let’s not forget that there are over 2000 coins that have come and gone, their related projects dead due to lack of demand.

The meme coins, such as Dogecoin, are a good example of complete lack of utility. Yet, investors have poured money into them, resulting in a 12,000% gain for DOGE between January and May 2021. They may look good right now, but they won’t last, as they serve no purpose. Dogecoin was started as a joke, and that should really tell you all you need to know. Still, people buy DOGE because they hope for its value to skyrocket. It’s speculation rather than investment.

Where should you look for long-term investments?

For long-term gains based on utility rather than making a quick profit, experts point to Ethereum (ETH) as the top choice, because it provides a platform for developers to create apps and run them on a blockchain without the involvement of third parties.

Paddy Osborn, managing director of the London Academy of Trading, suggests three others with potential: Polkadot – a network that can support multiple different blockchains and enable them to work together; Internet Computer, which aims to disrupt the internet space by building a decentralised web platform that runs on a blockchain and vechain, which helps companies track their products safely and securely through each stage of the supply chain.

To conclude, nothing is certain, but if you’re looking for a solid, long-term investment, look for the cryptos that are showing the greatest level of user adoption and functionality.  

Read this before October 2021 if you’re in crypto!

For those of us who believe in the concept of decentralization that underpins Bitcoin, I believe we are shortly going to receive a shock in the form of new regulations. The wealthiest countries in the world are snapping at the heels of the crypto universe and are looking at ways they can use financial regulations to bring fintechs, exchanges and crypto owners into line.

What do governments want to restrict?

Here’s a list of ‘things’ they are planning to target:

  • Peer-to-peer transactions
  • Stablecoins
  • Private wallets (phone, desktop, cold storage)
  • Privacy (privacy coins, decentralized exchanges, TOR and I2P)
  • Former ICOs & future projects (NFTs, DeFi, smart contracts, second layer solutions and more)

What is their intention?

At it’s most basic, you could say that they want to know EVERYTHING!

They want to:

  • Businesses active in crypto to be licensed and regulated like banks
  • Ensure full transparency for all transactions
  • Have the ability to freeze crypto assets belonging to persons or countries they believe are a ‘risk’
  • Force the disclosure of user information for all transactions
  • Revoke licenses of any that don’t comply with regulations.

They want control of a space that emerged precisely as a reaction to government and bank controls on money, both of which allowed a global financial crash to happen in 2008.

Why do governments suddenly want more regulations?

The answer is fear. Wesley Thysse in his document “Government Planning Worldwide Regulation of Bitcoin”, he points to one event that suddenly made them sit up and take real notice of cryptocurrencies, and that was Facebook’s 2018 announcement that it intended to create and launch a ‘so-called’ stablecoin. As Thysse says, “Until then they didn’t see cryptos as a risk to the global financial system.”

Why did Facebook’s Libra coin, as it was called at the time, send a ripple of unease through wealthy governments? Because Facebook’s billion users would have access to an instant payment system that was faster and more importantly cheaper than anything offered by the existing financial system.

Governments and the central banks huddled together in talks about what to do, and engaged an organization called Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Its goal is “to protect the integrity of the global financial system.” A real Big Brother!

FATF has already passed similar legislation for global governments, and it is the organization behind the rule insisting that all cryptocurrency exchanges that exchange fiat for crypto have the same KYC and anti-money laundering requirements as banks. What they will do now is turn their attention to all the elements of the industry outside this kind of control and as Thysse says, “declare what is, and isn’t acceptable.”

In 2018 FATF set out to control money laundering and terrorist financing, but now it is going much farther, and they are making swift progress. The document anyone in the crypto space should be looking at right now is FATF’s ‘Guidance for a risk-based approach to virtual assets and VASPS’ (GVA). This is due to be implemented in October 2021. Furthermore, it is impossible to move FATF out of its powerful position, because the organization is protected by the Vienna Conference on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities, which means they enjoy immunity with regard to their actions and are unburdened by the rules the rest of us must live by.

The so-called public consultation on the GVA was a farce, as they only chose the feedback that suited their agenda. They have delayed the implementation of the GVA until October, but after that expect to see their recommendations being implemented at national level, and in our legal systems. You should also note that the GVA will not apply to central bank-issued digital currencies. So, the agenda is very clear!

It may not be all bad news

As much as those dedicated to crypto may be horrified by all this, let’s take a moment to look at a possible upside: regulations may just pave the way for mass adoption, something the crypto community has long been waiting for. But at what cost? However, I urge you all to read the FATF GVA, because in just a few months it is going to start affecting your life, and most likely it won’t be in the way you would like.