Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency won’t supplant PayPal and credit cards as payment options yet, but they could in due time. That’s the assessment of Lisa Ellis, an equity analyst with sell-side research firm MoffettNathanson.
“Cryptocurrency systems (e.g., Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple) are potentially disruptive to private payment systems,” Ellis wrote in a client note . “Their core design characteristics — which are aimed at enabling ‘freedom of money’ — are in direct contrast to the characteristics of most traditional, private payment systems.”
Because of their disruptive potential, Ellis says crypto could become an existential threat to Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal. But that’s not happening anytime soon, she noted.
However, Ellis says these established payment giants should embrace crypto and blockchain or risk losing market share to Ripple and Veem, which are leveraging cryptocurrencies for cross-border payments.
PayPal CEO Dan Schulman recently expressed skepticism about mass merchant adoption of bitcoin, noting that there are very few retailers that accept crypto. Schulman made the remarks in January at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“We’re not seeing many retailers at all accept any of the cryptocurrencies,” Schulman said. “But I think the underlying technology is interesting.”
Schulman cited bitcoin’s erratic price fluctuations as a major reason for his reluctance to embrace crypto.
“The volatility of [bitcoin] makes it actually unsuitable to be a real currency that retailers can accept.”
“Retailers have very narrow margins. And when you have a bitcoin bouncing up and down by 15% over a couple weeks period, that can be the difference between profits and losing money on every sale.”
Chris Brendler, the director of equity research at Buckingham Research Group, agrees with Schulman. Brendler says crypto is unsuitable for both consumers and merchants.
“It’s just not an efficient way to transfer value,” Brendler told TheStreet . “It’s not a consumer-friendly process, and it’s not a merchant-friendly process.”
These bearish outlooks are a stark contrast to the bullish projections of tech billionaires Jack Dorsey and Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal.
Thiel has touted bitcoin as “digital gold” that’s a “hedge against the whole world falling apart.” In March 2018, Jack Dorsey said he believes bitcoin will emerge as the world’s single currency.
And just this week, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak reaffirmed that he’s a bitcoin bull who believes in its tremendous future. As CCN.com reported, Wozniak praised bitcoin for its “massive value creation” despite the current Crypto Winter.
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