A number of popular new bitcoin-related services are springing up across the marketplace, leading to increased consumer interest in the world’s leading cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin, a digital currency which has enjoyed a tumultuous valuation over the past few years, has been derided by many financial institutions as nothing more than a mere gimmick – but the cryptocurrency continues to persist in the market, with a slew of new services having recently arrived on the app store.

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Now, consumers can pay with crypto at Whole Foods, Baskin Robbins, and a number of other popular retailers and businesses which have opened their doors to the fledgling currency. According to a press release, Flexa has launched a global payment network with the aim of facilitating future bitcoin transactions between customers and businesses interested in accepting the cryptocurrency.

Up until now, many businesses haven’t been able to accept crypto payments because of their relatively muted popularity and a lack of digital infrastructure to facilitate such secure payments.

More businesses are now excepting Bitcoin as payment. [Image Source: Wagdy Fahmi/Flickr]
More businesses are now excepting Bitcoin as payment. [Image Source: Wagdy Fahmi/Flickr]

With Bitcoin and other leading cryptocurrencies continuing to endure on the market despite tumultuous turns in their valuation, some major brands are beginning to accept crypto payments with newfound confidence.

According to Flexa’s press release, the limited launch of its new network will allow both retail and e-commerce merchants to accept bitcoin, ether, Bitcoin Cash, and the Gemini dollar who download the SPEDN mobile wallet app. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are not coins, in the literal sense, but instead, reside in encrypted digital “wallets” which permit only those with access to spend the digital currency.

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“To spend cryptocurrency on Flexa, consumers send bitcoin or other supported digital assets to the secure SPEDN wallet and scan the app's barcode at the register,” the company’s press release elucidated, before noting that Flexa, like all other cryptocurrency services, converts the digital tokens into U.S. dollars in order to facilitate the transaction. This means that companies like Gamestop, Whole Foods, and others who are accepting the crypto payments are still receiving American dollars at the end of the transaction.

A chart of bitcoin’s price history provided by 99Bitcoins, an exchange, and a forum for crypto enthusiasts, demonstrates the drastic extent to which bitcoin’s price has fluctuated over the course of its history. In September of 2016, bitcoin’s valuation hovered at $688.50, whereas it jumped to a high point of $19,498.63 at the very start of 2018. Since then, the volatile currency has continued to dip and dive, though it’s never again attained such lofty valuations.

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At time of press, 1 bitcoin was valued at $8,005.00 U.S. dollars.

Flexa intends to make the SPEDN app more widely available for download in the App store in the coming week, according to the press release. The open Flexa network acts as an intermediary between merchants and the blockchain, or the ledger technology which makes cryptocurrency transactions possible in the first place.

“Payment processing costs have risen to nearly $90 billion and 2017 losses due to payment card fraud were reported at $22 billion globally,” the press release claimed, before arguing that services like the SPEDN wallet can crack down on such fraud.

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More joining the Flexa network

Barnes & Noble, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Office Depot are also joining the Flexa network to take cryptocurrency payments.

Customers who want to use their SPEDN wallet for brick-and-mortar transactions must download the app in order to scan a code on their smartphone which will enable them to pay. The service is similar to Apple Pay and other mobile-based payment systems, which continue to expand across the retail sector as digital payments grow more common.

New bitcoin services springing up

Appearing on Yahoo Finance’s “On The Move,” Flexa co-founder and CEO, Tyler Spalding, argued that “The network doesn’t have any risk to volatility whatsoever,” a major point of concern for both consumers and retailers when it comes to accepting such payments.

Flexa has an exchange partner in the form of Gemini, a company based in New York City, which will act as a middleman to ensure that all funds which are deposited within the app remain there. Thus, volatility exposure is drastically reduced for customers by ensuring their assets won’t suddenly devalue in the midst of an economic transaction

According to Spalding, Gemini completes the cryptocurrency market transaction in less than one second, making it possible for the company to lock in the transaction price to avoid sudden value fluctuations. Flexa trades the cryptocurrencies it receives from customers for Gemini dollars, which are in turn exchanged for American dollars, thereby turning the company a profit.

Bitcoin has more than doubled its price since the start of 2019, though consumers unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies are advised to keep the rapid fluctuation of their value in mind.

Those seeking further authoritative information on cryptocurrencies should consult the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s crypto token guidance statement.

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