Curated ICO Selection – February

Synapse AI

This interesting token has captured our attention; being a decentralized AI network that trains itself and helps Holders get paid for sharing their data. The idea of the token is to connect Data sellers to Data Buyers. Most users unknowingly or unwillingly sell their personal data to companies and do not receive any compensation. Synapse aims to create a fair market place where users are compensated for sharing their data on an Ethereum platform.

Cashless Synapse AI

The SYN utility token powers the market place for data buyers and sellers. Sellers can choose exactly what aspect of their data they would like to sell and this data would be available for purchase on Synapse’ decentralized market place which spans a multitude of industries such as marketing, entertainment, education, pharma etc.

The Synapse ICO is open until March 12th. Tokens are currently selling at a rate of 1008 SYN for 0.1 ETH, which is good value for such a project. Especially with a revolution in Data Protection laws in the EU and across the world

Get 100 Free Tokens on signing up and an additional 100 tokens for referring with 5% back for referral purchases.

Cashless Synapse Token

Corbit

This seems like an innovate approach in creating an exchange for crypto-currency trading on the Ethereum platform. The supposed benefits of this platform is its user friendly interface (not yet available to the public) and its speed since its based on the Ethereum chain. The thing that captures the eye however, is its decentralization (implying users have complete control over their crypto assets unlike regular exchanges) and it’s safety considering users control their crypto assets on the blockchain.

Cashless Corbit Token

Moving on to the token usage, the CEX token allows holders to claim a share of fees generated by the payment service and exchange. Consider this to be a pool of holders gaining assets as the number of transactions increase on the exchange, and as the value of the token rises. As a holder of CEX token, it is proposed that holders will receive 50% of the transaction fees of every transaction divided by the amount of all distributed tokens.

The airdrop lasts till 9th of March with users receiving 30 CEX tokens for participating and 10 CEX tokens for every referral. All you need is an Ethereum public address from MyEtherWallet and you’re ready to get your free tokens! At a value of $0.2 for 1 CEX token, this is the best entry point for an exchange of this potential. This is a great long term hold as Corbit plans to deploy into Main-net by Q4 2018 and provide margin trading in 2019. Corbit

Corbit Token Cashless

Disclaimer: The links in the article are referral links from the author. Every referral helps fund our site and helps the authors keep this platform running. We greatly appreciate your support!

Learning from China

Our recent visit to Shanghai sprung a lot of surprises and one that stood out the most was the adoption of Cashless payments. The sheer number of places that preferred to accept Alipay or WeChat Pay in lieu of cash was staggering. Having permeated into multiple aspects of life, right from hailing a taxi to shopping at a Brick and Mortar shop, paying for rents, utilities, stores, bike sharing, hotel booking, food ordering etc; all accept either Alipay or wePay. All you need is a mobile phone with a linked bank account and you can pay in almost any store in the country!

Now mobile payments are not a revolutionary technology by any stretch of the imagination. It’s the massive adoption that makes it such a stellar achievement. What started as an out of the box solution to pay employee bonuses for the new year, soon gathered momentum and became a household name for consumer payments.

wePay and Alipay are front runners in the Chinese mobile payments industry with a host of other players competing for market share. Here’s a brief look at a few key industry leaders who are revolutionizing the Chinese mobile cashless payments market.

Mobile payments are not a revolutionary technology by any stretch of the imagination. It’s the massive adoption that makes it such a stellar achievement.

Alipay

Leading the way is Alipay. As on Q4 2016, Alipay has the largest market share amongst all the major Payment Service Providers at 43.2% while eclipsing the mobile payments sector at 56% compared to their nearest competitor, WeChat Pay. You can buy gold, funds and other financial instruments on Alipay. But what truly separates Alipay from the rest is their foray into markets beyond China. Alipay is now accepted at select merchants in South Korea, Finland, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Israel and more.

WeChat Pay

The second most popular mobile payments service and the closest competitor to Alipay. What started off as a social messaging platform by Tencent Technologies, eventually grew into a payments company. Imagine them as a chat messaging service similar to Whatsapp but with integrated payments. Over the years, WeChat Pay evolved from a P2P payment method into a national payments service provider. Even though WeChat Pay has a lower market share compared to Alipay, there is a huge scope for adoption since about 50% of WeChat user base are yet to use WeChat Pay.

Lian Lian, PayEase, Yeepay

With a combined market share of 5%, Lian Lian, PayEase and Yeepay have some interesting product offerings with the likes of investment options and one-click payments. They have an existing partnership with China UnionPay for Banking services. However, what’s capturing everyone’s attention is their partnership with Apple Pay, who have had a rough few years trying to gain foothold in the Chinese market. This partnership with Lian Lian, PayEase and Yeepay sees Apple Pay foray into the Digital Payments sector. It’s easy to see why Apple wants a slice of the digital payments pie in China. Now that it has a strong foot hold, they can now look forward to leveraging their brand.

 

Mobile payment methods amounted for $5 trillion in 2016, according to Analysis data cited by Hillhouse Capital. With almost every business accepting mobile payments, there is a general fear of missing out on the digital payments ride. The average consumer in China expect every store to have a mobile payment option and hence would be unwise for Businesses to not adopt these technologies. The technology is being made affordable and is so wide-spread, that there is a significantly high adoption rate even in the poorer section of society. This in itself is an interesting case study of how countries aiming to go cashless can plan for financial inclusion, one of the elements (discussed in our earlier article) hindering societies to go cashless.

According to CLSA, a research investment company based in Hong Kong, electronic payments would amount to in $45 trillion by 2021. Such a massive surge in alternative payment methods has called for the People’s Bank of China (PBC), the country’s central bank, to issue a new rule requiring that all payments made through third-party platforms like Alipay and WeChat Pay would need to pass through a new, independent clearing house starting in June 2018.

China’s adoption of mobile payments serves as a great template for other societies aiming to go cashless.

Are card payments taking over Cash?

Looking at the growing number of point of sale (POS) operations by Payment Service Providers (PSP), there has been a gradual shift towards widespread use of card payments in lieu of cash. Comparing the statistics to North America, China and developing countries like India, the rate of adoption is comparatively lower, mostly attributed to high transaction fees. Despite the emergence of digital payment methods, adoption of card based payments by PSP’s are still on the rise.

The infographic below highlights current trends in Card payments in the EU. Data for this infographic is sourced from European Central Bank, Statistical Data Warehouse.

Card Payments
Card Payments Infographic

The average value per card payment has increased to €48.9 which shows a relatively high degree of confidence in the payment method. This along with a 9% increase in the number of cards issued shows a gradual improvement in uptake.

This has naturally translated in an increase in the number of POS payments by 9.5% from 2015. With a higher number of cards circulating in the market, the value of POS payments by cards has amounted to €2294.2 Billion.

Another interesting aspect is the 2.5% reduction in ATM terminals over the last 3 years which has led to a 1.8% decrease in cash withdrawal in ATM’s provided by PSP’s. With the emergence of digital payments, there is a possibility that this reduction in ATM’s could be attributed to the higher cost of operations, thus scoring low on cost-benefit.

In summation, the uptake of card payments has gradually increased over the past 5 years with a comparatively slower adoption of cash. This along with positive sentiment regarding digital payment methods, could signal the marginalization of cash use in a decades time

Please get in touch with us for feedback or general queries regarding this article

 

Cashless Society: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubts

Here at cashless payments journal, we will always advocate cashless societies. However it would be unwise to not acknowledge the implications of going down this route. The socio economic hurdles arising from this transition cannot be ignored. In this article, we explore some of the hurdles that present itself in the journey to going cashless.

Financial Inclusion

One of the biggest challenge is the issue of financial inclusion. A cashless society would hit the unbanked poor and homeless the hardest. Without access to payment tokens, the poor would find it increasingly difficult to meet daily necessities. Frankly, there needs to be dialog at state level to be able to scale up to these objectives. This would involve subsidizing payment methods and having infrastructure in place to register everyone. And this transition cannot happen unless the poor are provided easy access to banking services, which is a problem that has been left unsolved for decades! However, if this can be achieved, then it could potentially be the best way to ensure the poor get social benefits paid directly into their account, without money getting siphoned into the hands of corrupt officials.

Issue of Ownership

One of the most common arguments against going cashless is the loss of control. By signing on to a cashless payments providers and by signing on to their elaborate terms and conditions, consumers are potentially at the mercy of Institutions and Governments. Risk averse consumers paranoid over transaction, holding and interest fees, tend to prefer cash. This is where the anonymity of cryptocurrency shines! A decentralized yet public ledger is ideal for consumers worried about the issue of ownership. Sure, there are mining and transaction fees, but it is the lesser of all evils. Coins such as Monero have a strong use case by providing anonymity, low transaction fees and decentralization.

Security

Any digital asset that is held online is always at risk of being under attack. Cyber attacks targeting vulnerabilities in the system happen far too often. The less informed fall prey to social engineering methods such as phishing, while Enterprise Businesses fall victim to DDoS attacks. Where there is digital, there is always a weakness that is left to be exploited. Even cryptocurrency is not immune to attacks given the latest news surrounding the hack of Japanese exchange Coincheck. The issue of security is one that will never go away.

Marginalization of society

Industries that are heavily dependent on cash would get marginalized. One recent example of this occurring was in India. The government attempted to demonetize cash in a bid to eradicate black money. This led to a surge in cashless payments companies such as PayTm. However, minimum wage workers and laborers were the ones who felt the biggest impact. According to this report from Forbes, the suicide rates among laborers and farmers started rising during the first few months of demonetization. Employees in industries such as construction, mining, factory etc where payment is offered in cash, got marginalized the most. Thus it would seem, developing economies would suffer the most, if their hands were forced into going cashless.

With the current state of technology, cashless is definitely seen as a financial instrument for developed countries. Given the socio-economic conditions that exist, the current hybrid mix of cash and cashless payments would continue, until smartphone technology and cashless infrastructure becomes economically viable or subsidized by the government.

NEM rallies despite Coincheck hack and Updates

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck confirmed one of the biggest hacks in financial history, with an estimated loss of 260,000 NEM tokens amounting to approximately $500 million. All trade deposits and withdrawals have been temporarily disabled until all vulnerabilities getfixed.

Coincheck will be using their own cash reserves to refund customers affected by the hack. According to coincheck corporate, NEM holders will be refunded in Fiat at a rate of 88.549 yen multiplied by NEM in possession. Updates on exact timelines would be announced shortly.

In an interview with Medium, Jeff McDonald, Vice President of the NEM foundation stated that they are taking measures to catch the perpetrators of this hack. All stolen assets will soon have a tagging system that will follow the stolen NEM tokens. Thus the foundation would be alerted whenever these tokens exchanges hands.

But most surprisingly, despite eclipsing Mt. Gox by $50 million in monetary value, the impact on the crypto markets was relatively unsubstantial. With most coins value dropping by 5%. NEM itself rallied back to $1 within 24 hours of the hack. Indicative of the bullish long term sentiment on NEM.

P.S: This incident is yet another reminder to never hld your crypto-assets on exchanges. Always transfer to a cold wallet. Ledger Nano S is considered one of the safest and cost effective solution in the market.

Week in Review

It’s been an interesting week for cashless payments with the well documented buzz surrounding Amazon Go and Starbucks, testing their cashierless and cashless stores respectively. Being the innovators of retail and coffee industry respectively, it’s definitely brought a shift in group think surrounding cashless payments. An earlier article last week shows some initial impressions on Amazon Go and the general consumer experience.

In Bangkok, the iconic Chatuchak market is proposed to go cashless from this June. Visitors of this market will soon be able to make cashless transactions using QR codes on their mobile phones. Also part of this project is automated parking spots, which should help alleviate congestion during peak shopping hours. This ambitious project will be of great news to shoppers, local businesses and mobile manufacturers alike, with the smartphone market estimated to grow to 30 million users by 2022. It will be interesting to watch this project unfold.

Bangkok_Chatuchak_Market_2

Photo credit: ThailandPhoto at commons.wikimedia.org

This week also sees a continued uptake in Singapore’s foray into a cashless economy. The industry has seen incredible growth over the past 2 years with cashless payments accounting for 4 out of every 10 transactions . In collaboration with major financial services providers (Mastercard, Visa, Alipay, American Express, DBS etc) the open loop QR payments eco-system is set to eliminate cash by 2019. The deadline is very aggressive and ambitious, and may even sound lofty, but not be impossible, thanks to the ease of implementing QR based payments. It will be interesting to monitor developments in Singapore as it could potentially be a template for developing countries looking to transition into a cashless economy.

Taking a lead from Amazon, Starbucks and Uber, Houston restaurants are looking to embrace cashless payments. Restaurant owners are trying to limit their use of cash registers in a bid to save time and money. One very positive take on cashless payments by Peli Peli kitchen’s owner, stating that cashless payments would help improve quality of life for his employees by reducing the hours spent in counting cash. Restaurant employees would be able to leave early and cash holding cost for restaurant owners would also reduce.

Amazon Go Experience

The past month has been an incredible step forward for cashless payments. We have entered a new age of retail shopping with Amazon Go trialing their completely automated cashless store in Seattle. Let’s have a look at some initial impressions of Amazon Go.

The Cashless Experience

It’s pretty important to keep in mind that Go is still in a proof of concept stage. It’s near impossible to perfect such a concept in the first “Go”. Questionable use of pun aside, the first week of trials can largely be heralded as a success despite some minor hiccups.

The Technology

The shopping experience is as seamless as simply walking in and out of the store with your groceries. Users have to download the Amazon Go app first, from either the Google Play-store or iTunes and linking it to your existing Amazon account. A valid credit card should already be linked to this account, in order to be completely set up. After linking successfully, the app will display a unique code. It’s this code that identifies you as an individual. Simply scan this code at the entry turnstile and you can begin your shopping experience.

A multitude of cameras and sensors in the store tracks your movement and together with Artificial Intelligence, tracks gestures and products you bought. There’s no billing or check out in store. Just walk out of the store with your items and the app will calculate your basket and bill you. It’s possibly the most seamless and non-intrusive shopping experience yet!

The Experience

Prior to opening the store to the public, one of the most hotly contested issue was how would this impact customer experience. The most noticeable improvement in customer experience is the visible lack of queues. However, there were periods in the day where the lines were long. But this was short lived as the lines kept moving. What’s important to realize is that queues moved along quickly even during peak store footfall. This is a huge step forward when compared to the nightmare that is Black Friday sales! Amazon Go’s true test would be how it handles crowds during the holiday shopping season.

Another positive experience from a consumers perspective was that items in store were reasonably priced. It’s crucial for Amazon to keep their prices level with regular super markets while maintaining overheads involved in operating such a place and of course balancing that R&D budget! This is an understated nuance, since consumers can fall of the wagon after the novelty of such a store wears off. Amazon could have easily chose to mark up their products but they didn’t. This is indicative of their long term view of garnering adoption rather than banking in on immediate short term hype.

On a side note, unfortunately purchases of alcohol required human intervention. A potential solution to this is to submit proof of age in the App and getting it verified, before entering their stores.

What’s missing?

One of Amazon’s biggest pull is their rating system. I have lost count of the amount of times where positive user reviews and ratings convinced me to buy a product. The converse is true for this as well. Ratings were visibly missing in the store. But this is understandable considering the logistics involved in making something like this happen. Amazon clearly knows the value of user data, ratings and reviews which feeds into their successful recommender system. So I wouldn’t put it past Amazon to introduce product ratings in their next iteration of Go.

Final Verdict

It goes without saying that Amazon are pioneering a new era of cashless payments. This proof of concept with an amibitious plan of 2000 stores, has the potential to go far beyond and be instilled in the fabric of how we shop. With technology such as contactless payments, Android/Apple Pay, wearable payments etc, Businesses are now more open to enable seamless payments processing. Amazon Go is as seamless as it gets without entering the realms of biometric payments.