Crypto paytech plugs SME gap left by slow banks

A sluggish approach by banks to embrace cryptos and serve SMEs has opened the door to fintechs bridging the divide between niche digital currencies and mainstream fiat.

“It takes time for the big banks to make crypto available to the mass market, whereas it’s already available on our platform. Everyone can pretty much apply for the business account and start using,” says CEO of payments company Wirex Dmitry Lazarichev.

“We believe this is how we can reach the mass adoption for the digital assets and blockchain.

“There are a number of other platforms for small businesses – including, Monzo, Tide and Monese – but none of them offer access to crypto,” says Lazarichev.

35% of SME owners expect cryptocurrency payments will come to the high street in two years, reveals a study conducted from 17-21 January 2018 – during a month that saw $340bn wiped off the crypto market, after 2017 highs.

“We recently added our first stable coin which we think this could be an interesting proposition for merchants because they can accept payments in digital currencies and not be affected by market volatility.

“We’ve seen a lot of demand from small companies and startups involved in blockchain and crypto currencies. It’s a big problem in the market to find a banking partner, this is why we built our B2B platform So we have a number of businesses in the waiting list already,” says Lazarichev.

According to Joel Camacho, managing director of Decipher Capital, a blockchain project fund, banks were reluctant to offer his company a business account in early 2018 as the crypto market was “too risky”. Wirex however does not see itself as a crypto company.

“We think of ourselves primarily as a payments company. We do have integrations with OTC traders and exchanges so customers can use us that way.

“[But] we are also offering access to a number of payment rails on our platform, including Visa cards as well as SEPA and Swift payments, and Faster Payments for UK customers – these are the payment rails of the high street banks but we’re also offering the benefits of blockchain to offer fast and cheap payments and transfers,” says Lazarichev.

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