March 7, 2022
Illustration: Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash
Good morning, and welcome to Protocol Fintech. This Monday: consumer attitudes on crypto, Dee Snider vs. Randi Zuckerberg, and Revolut and PayPal ditch Russia.
I might as well throw away my 2022 bingo card, because I definitely didn’t have Dee Snider threatening legal action against Randi Zuckerberg over a cryptopian remake of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” on there. At first, the Twisted Sister frontman threw up his hands when people started tagging him and asking him how much he was making off of Zuckerberg’s cri de coin, then he started questioning whether it was actually an Al Yankovic-style parody or just a ripoff. I’m not a lawyer, but I’d encourage everyone involved to listen to an episode of “Switched On Pop” from last fall that explains the complex world of musical credits, copyright and royalties in the age of streaming.
— Owen Thomas (email | twitter)
Most U.S. adults are aware of cryptocurrencies. Are they ready to HODL?
The adoption of digital currencies like bitcoin and ether has grown astronomically, but many consumers are still wary about crypto. In collaboration with the Harris Poll, Protocol surveyed 1,105 adults and asked about their general attitudes towards crypto, how likely they were to trade and the companies they most associate with crypto.
If you stay crypto-ready, you don’t have to get crypto-ready. Of the 28% of people who currently trade crypto, an overwhelming 93% said they would trade or buy more this year, and 94% said they would do more next year.
Crypto advertising has boosted awareness, but not intent. The world has seemingly been inundated with crypto ads recently, with large crypto exchanges buying up naming rights to stadiums and billboards in Times Square. Most recently, crypto ads made a big splash at the Super Bowl. But did those $7 million plugs really make a difference? Not really.
Crypto users seem to value security over decentralization. The most-used crypto exchanges are Crypto.com, Coinbase and Robinhood — all centralized exchanges where crypto is held in a hosted wallet or online account. While some crypto purists dislike the “custodial” model, mainstream customers seem to view it as more secure. There’s a lesson there on how crypto will reach the rest of the market.
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On Protocol: A Wall Street analyst said that Coinbase is likely going to have to implement a blanket ban on Russian customers given increasing pressure, despite CEO Brian Armstrong’s defense of crypto as a “lifeline” for ordinary Russians.
Venezuela is linking its minimum wage to its national cryptocurrency. This will result in an 18-fold increase to about 126 bolivars, equivalent to $28. The last minimum wage increase was in April last year, to about $2.
Shake Shack is offering bitcoin as a reward for using Cash App. The burger chain is reportedly experimenting with younger consumers and gauging interest in cryptocurrencies as a payment method.
Revolut and PayPal banned transfers in Russia. PayPal suspended its services in Russia, and Revolut stopped support for money transfers in and out of Russia as well as Belarus. Users with Revolut cards issued by financial institutions in those countries can no longer use them as well.
The Singapore High Court froze $7 million worth of stolen crypto. The plaintiff, an unnamed American entrepreneur, won a court injunction to freeze the defendants’ assets, and two crypto exchanges operating in Singapore were ordered to disclose information related to some of the stolen bitcoin.
The Central Bank of Brazil selected nine partners to help in its upcoming digital real. The central bank plans to launch a CBDC pilot program this year, with a finalized version by 2024.
Malaysian Deputy Finance Minister Yamani Hafez Musa doesn’t think crypto is a viable payment method, and he’s not a fan of the energy consumption crypto takes. “Digital assets such as bitcoin and ethereum are not suitable to be used as a payment instrument … In general, digital assets are not a store of value and a good medium of exchange,” he said Thursday in response to a question from a member of the country’s parliament.
The Biden administration is fed up with the Senate Republican boycott of the confirmation of Fed nominees, with unconfirmed appointee Sarah Bloom Raskin’s involvement in the fintech company Reserve Trust a point of contention. “They’re not doing their job here, which is just to show up. They don’t have to vote for her, they just have to be in the room,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing.
Bottomline’s earnings call is set for Tuesday. EPAY’s expected to report a break-even quarter after a surprise loss in the September quarter.
The Wolfe FinTech Forum starts Tuesday. The three-day conference will feature speakers from payments companies and crypto exchanges, including the CEOs of Visa and Mastercard and the CFOs of PayPal and Coinbase.
Marqeta’s earnings call is scheduled for Wednesday. MQ’s average estimated EPS is a loss of 9 cents, 12.5% more than last quarter.
The 10th NextGen Payments and RegTech Forum starts Wednesday. The two-day forum will be hosted in Dublin, Ireland, and will feature speakers from the payments industry, including speakers from Mastercard and Binance.
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Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!