When will Apple enter crypto?

More big names are in crypto these days, including the US government Recently Joe Biden signed an executive order on crypto, aimed at advancing the “U.S. competitiveness and leadership” in digital assets and crypto ecosystem. But, as Derick David writes at Forbes, the one big name a good number of the crypto community are waiting for is – Apple!

Apple has been extremely quiet about crypto. The last time we heard anything from the company was in 2019 when Apple Pay’s VP Jennifer Bailey said the company was “watching cryptocurrency” and strongly believes it has “interesting long-term potential.” In February 2020 it hired Warner Music’s former head of technology innovation, to work on blockchain projects for digital assets, and in November 2021 Tim Cook told the new York Times that Apple was looking into the possibility of accepting crypto through Apple Pay. But since then we’ve heard nothing.

Instead, Apple Pay launched a new feature in February 2022. This allows retailers to use their iPhones to accept instant payments and is called Tap to Pay. It could be used for crypto, but it isn’t.

However, there was one interesting development in March this year: Metamask, one of the most used crypto wallets, announced its support for Apple Pay so people can buy crypto directly from their wallets. Derick David points out that at the same time as this announcement, Apple advertised for new legal counsel “with expertise and experience on blockchain, digital assets, and payment platforms.”

Around the same time, Apple acquired Credit Kudos, a UK-based fintech startup, bringing a range of payment functions in-house. This gives Apple the potential to offer a crypto service that would enable people to buy products, save or invest money, and pay their bills with crypto or fiat – if Apple chooses to adopt crypto! The combination of Credit Kudos and Apple Pay could “help billions of users have a frictionless banking and payment experience,” as Derick David says.

Why is the crypto community so anxious for Apple to come on board? It’s simple really. Apple is in a unique and powerful position to best support crypto. It has over one billion active iPhone users and fans of the brand follow “their software and hardware ecosystem and hundreds of thousands of people wait in excitement for their Keynote events and product releases.”

The Apple ecosystem could supercharge crypto adoption, simply because it would offer seamless integration through their products, a global reach, and a cult-like following.

It is still keeping quiet for now, but when it does decide to make a crypto move, expect big, big positive changes for crypto.

KPMG reports surge in Singapore crypto investments

KPMG’s ‘Pulse of Fintech’ report highlights the strong growth in Singapore’s crypto markets. According to the latest report, “Singapore has seen a tenfold increase in crypto-related investments last year worth $1.48 billion, up from $110 million in 2020,” and this surge is expected to continue.

Government support

It is true that the city-state has for some time been recognised as a cryptocurrency hub, with over $1.48 billion in investment completed in 2021 alone. KPMG suggests that this growth is “in part due to government efforts to stimulate the capital market.” One of the actions it has taken is the establishment of a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) listing framework that positions Singapore as the best location for firms that are growing fast, as well as unicorns, wishing to go public.

Currently, regulators are making decisive efforts to regulate what they see as speculative digital assets. However, KPMG believes that that this will not hamper Singapore’s crypto investments, and that they will continue to grow this year.

Singapore crypto market changes from services to software

Whilst it is true that in January, Singapore’s central bank ordered cryptocurrency businesses to stop advertising their services to the public, and a significant number of firms have been refused the crypto licenses needed to operate a regulated cryptocurrency business in Singapore, KPMG forecasts that growth will continue because “the majority of cryptocurrency and blockchain investments last year were focused on software and underlying infrastructure rather than services.” Indeed, this sector now accounts for a third of the total fintech investment in Singapore, which rose to $3.94 billion last year , according to KPMG.

Asia-Pacific region going strong

Another highlight of the report is that the Asia-Pacific region is doing well in general. The region saw fintech investments hit a record high of $27.5 billion in 2021, with total funding surpassing $17.4 billion in the second half alone (compared to $11.5 billion in 2020). Furthermore, in 2021, venture capital funding rose to $19.6 billion from $11.5 billion in 2020.

KPMG’s trends to watch out for in 2022

Although KPMG reports cover all world regions, these are its predictions for 2022 in the Asia-Pacific region – ASPAC:

  • Singapore growing on the radar of companies looking for a base from which to expand outside of the Asia-Pacific region;
  • growing investment from Asia-Pacific based countries into developing regions, including the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia;
  • continued growth of embedded finance, including banking and insurance.

Kraken grabs ‘top influencer’ spot for 2021

According to a recently published study from Utility Bidder , the fintech sector is set to surpass $382 billion in 2027. It also estimates that blockchain-specific fintechs are likely to be worth in excess of $67.4 billion in the same timeframe. The report also had good news for Kraken, which it named the most influential blockchain company of 2021.

The Utility Bidder study analysed 50 fintech firms selected from the Forbes’ Fintech 50 report. They used four factors to assess each firm: total funds raised, the latest known valuation, number of Twitter followers, and the global searches stemming from Google Ads Keyword Planner between August 2020 and July 2021. Each one was given a score out of 10 for each factor, and as the report’s results show, Kraken was a very clear winner with a total influence score of 5.64.

Kraken is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world and also was the most followed fintech company on our list, with a Twitter following of over 780,00, far more than the majority of other fintechs Utility Bidder looked at. It is now available in over 170 countries around the world, with over 70 cryptocurrencies available for trade Kraken also recently became the first crypto exchange in the United States to be granted a special purpose depository institution (SPDI) charter.

Gemini, in second place, only managed to achieve 2.33, while the others in the top 10 didn’t even manage to score 2 – Alchemy at the eight spot only scored 1.10. It is interesting to note that Kraken has a valuation of $20 billion, whilst Gemini’s valuation is around $5 billion. Alchemy has a valuation of only $505 million.

Robinhood is another winner

In terms of financial technology as a whole, the top five fintech firms include Robinhood, Stripe, Kraken, Klarna, and Wise. Robinhood clocked up a score of 7.22 for being the “most searched for” fintech on this list, with over 28 million searches in the last twelve months, and they’ve also raised the greatest VC funding with $5.6 billion. As the report says, Robinhood is one of the big boys of the fintech world, with over 13 million users using the app to invest in stocks and funds commission-free.

Stripe, the software as a service company that has changed the game when it comes to payments, with no monthly or setup fees and no hidden costs scored 6.07. Started by two brothers in Ireland, Stripe is now worth an estimated $95 billion having experienced rapid growth and it is now investing in other start-ups such as Monzo.

Europe and UK offer fintechs a strong base for success

Don’t let the current crypto market news depress you; things are not as bad as they seem, especially if you are able to look at the bigger picture around cryptocurrencies.

According to media reports, in April 2021, the cryptocurrency market topped $2 trillion of valuation for the first time, and Bitcoin’s market value was sitting at 1.15 Trillion dollars. Bitcoin registered a crucial growth in the last six months, equivalent to a 450 percent rise, and Bitcoin and Ethereum have also been witnessing huge rallies this year.

Add into this mix the fact that cryptocurrency has rapidly gained popularity and has begun affecting the economy of some countries and you have a promising outlook.

An interesting report IBS Intelligence shines a light on the European fintechs that are doing well, as does an article in today’s Guardian that reveals a growing level of value in the UK’s digital finance industry, which has just passed a “multibillion-pound peak of investor interest.”

IBS Intelligence claims that the four fintechs currently performing well across Europe are Luno, Wirex, Ziglu and Bitcoin Suisse – two of them (Luno and Ziglu) are London based.

Luno is a global cryptocurrency co-founded by CEO Marcus Swanepoel and CTO Timothy Stranex. Its products and services aim to make it safe and easy to buy, sell, store and learn about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Last year, the Securities Commission (SC) of Malaysia gave Luno its approval to operate as a recognised market operator (digital asset exchange), and the fintech now has hubs in Singapore and Cape Town. It has grown significantly in recent years, with nearly 400 employees and more than five million global customers spanning over 40 countries.

Wirex is already well known. It is a digital payment platform and regulated institution that developed a contactless payment card giving users the ability to seamlessly spend crypto and traditional currencies in real life.

Ziglu was founded in London in 2018 and is a cryptocurrency venture that aims to offer exchange services at interbank rates and at the same time, facilitate the purchasing of cryptocurrencies through various exchange platforms. It has a Peer-to Peer payment app that enables Ziglu customers to instantly send or receive any currency from any contact within the challenger’s community. Significantly, the founders of this enterprise come from Starling Bank, one of the strongest British challenger banks.

Bitcoin Suisse is a Swiss-based financial services and technology services provider that offers trading, brokerage, storage, staking, collateralized lending, and crypto financial solutions. Payments supplier, Worldline recently entered into a partnership with Bitcoin Suisse in a bid to provide crypto payment services to Swiss merchants and consumers.

Meanwhile in the UK, Revolut confirmed last week that it had raised another $800m from big investors including the Softbank Vision Fund, taking its valuation to $33bn. It came just weeks after Wise, the forex transfer business listed on the London Stock Exchange for £9bn.

There is, the Guardian reports, a high level of private investor interest in fintechs. “I’m very positive that we will see additional and similar success stories in the UK coming down the track,” said Janine Hirt, chief executive of the UK’s fintech lobby group Innovate Finance. She added, “British fintech firms continue to attract huge amount of international investment, second only to the US,” largely because most business is done in English, it has access to top tier universities, a diverse talent pool and has strong support from regulators and government.

Brexit may be a deterrent for European talent wishing to work in British fintechs, but the sector is working hard to push the government to secure greater access to international markets for UK fintech firms – particularly a post-Brexit EU – in a way that will make it easier for them to go global. That seems likely to happen given the UK and Europe’s glowing future outlook for fintechs.