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Industry roundup: 15 April

First crypto-backed card developed through Nexo, Mastercard and DiPocket partnerships

Nexo, a regulated lending services provider for digital assets, has partnered with Mastercard and DiPocket to offer the Nexo Card. This card is a first-of-its-kind credit card backed by bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, which launched first in Europe and is expected to roll out worldwide. According to the press release, users should have access to cryptocurrency-based liquidity in over 93 million merchant sites around the world (where Mastercard is accepted). Additionally, the Nexo Card is said to be the world's first card that allows users to spend money without selling digital assets.

Nexo reportedly collaborated with Mastercard and DiPocket to launch this product on a large scale. DiPocket, with its embedded finance technology, will become the card issuer for Europe, while Mastercard will act as the company's infrastructure and payment processor. Moreover, Nexo stated that the Nexo Card will offer no fees, 2% benefits and seamless accessibility.

Raj Dhamodharan, Head of Crypto and Blockchain Products and Partnerships, Mastercard, commented that digital assets are revolutionizing the financial environment, and being at the forefront of innovation is critical in delivering unique ways for people to access, pay and initiate their cryptocurrency holdings.

Nexo has partially launched cards to target audiences in some European countries. This generated high interest and volume of transactions, demonstrating a clear demand for the product. The company plans to add debit card functionality to the Nexo Card and has international expansion plans to upgrade its products further in the pipeline. DiPocket is said to be part of the expansion.

Real-time SEPA payments via Bitfinex and OpenPayd

Bitfinex, a state-of-the-art digital token trading platform, has partnered with OpenPayd, a provider of fiat-on-ramp services, to enable real-time SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) payments for deposits and withdrawals in euros.

With the introduction of SEPA (payments systems created by the EU), Bitfinex customers will have the opportunity to use the euro on the platform, and the new collaboration should enable customers to instantly deposit and withdraw from their accounts. The OpenPayd service is said to automate important back-end functions, such as reconciliation, and provide companies the ability to expand their businesses throughout Europe.

Paolo Ardoino, CTO, Bitfinex, commented that the collaboration with OpenPayd will enable them to access SEPA’s real-time payment platforms and help expedite integration through the OpenPayd API in an ongoing effort to deliver a superior customer service experience to their growing user base.

Embedded finance enables disruptive financial products, allowing easy installation of a fully functional plug-and-play payment platform with access to all of its benefits. Iana Dimitrova, CEO, OpenPayd, stated that they will enable this capability by helping Bitfinex, one of the world's largest digital token exchanges, to close the gap between fiat money and cryptocurrencies.

Bank of Canada to simulate crypto adoption through quantum computing trials

The Bank of Canada is the first G7 (an intergovernmental association made up of the world’s most developed nations) country to look at quantum computing to simulate scenarios where cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies can coexist. According to reports, Canada's researchers reached a milestone this week, where their model can evaluate over 1 octillion possible scenarios in 30 minutes.

Furthermore, the report states that Multiverse Computing has completed their proof of concept that combines blockchain data from Stablecoin Tether (USDT), whose tokens are fixed to the US dollar, and public data from as many as 10 major financial institutions. The researchers also consulted with experts from two major Canadian banks to find realistic parameters.

The researchers indicated that most of the model scenarios illustrated slow adoption of cryptocurrencies by non-financial institutions due to some prior knowledge and costs associated with converting fiat money into digital assets. The model was also said to simulate how banks would react by lowering wire transfer charges to compete with the very low costs of crypto transactions.

The Bank of Canada officials stated that the research itself has just reached the proof-of-concept stage, so it has no impact on Canada's crypto regulations. However, the ability to use the quantum computing model to simulate how fiat and digital currencies compete for use and acceptance is a major step forward per officials.

Digitizing the Pakistani MSME ecosystem through Paymob’s digital payment technology

Paymob, a virtual payment provider in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has announced its official market entrance into Pakistan. Paymob's expansion into Pakistan continues with steady growth not only in its base market of Egypt, but also in Jordan and other parts of the world, serving many merchants such as LG, Samsonite, Talabat, Uber, Virgin Records, and SMEs. 

The report indicated that Paymob's market opportunities in Pakistan are significant, as it has a population of over 220 million, with many retail stores and SMEs throughout Pakistan’s cities. Additionally, over four million SMEs use more than 80,000 point-of-sale terminals and less than 3,000 e-commerce gateways. The press release also reported this market to be perfectly aligned with Paymob's ability to close the digital finance gap and meet company standards and strategies to continue to expand in MENA and globally.

Pakistan, ranked as the world's fifth largest market for freelance services, serves domestic and international clients with no sufficient local means of digital payments. Paymob's technology, empowered by Digital Onboarding regulations established by the State Bank of Pakistan, provides instant onboarding capabilities for the first time in Pakistan to their micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) merchants through products such as payment gateways, point-of-sale and soft POS.

Merchants should be able to easily integrate Paymob's payment API into their website or mobile app to accept payments from customers using a variety of payment methods such as cards, mobile wallets, BNPL, and direct debit. Paymob will also expand its Tap-on-Phone capability, a payment acceptance service which initially launched in Egypt, to Pakistani merchants in partnership with Mastercard.

Bitcoin whales have each sold over $400 million in the past week

Cryptocurrencies rose on Thursday, recovering from the lows set in recent sellouts. However, data suggests that the major holders of the largest digital assets are about to put up for sale, which could put downward pressure on prices in the short term.

Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, has increased by 3% over the last 24 hours to over US $41,000. Earlier this week, bitcoin's price recorded its largest daily decline since February, falling below $39,400 on Tuesday. Glassnode, data analytics on blockchain transactions, cited that the number of wallets with balances above 10,000 bitcoins has dropped significantly over the past week, indicating a possible shift to an exchange or broker for sale. .

At least four whales have sold over $400 million worth of bitcoin during this period. A bitcoin “whale” refers to an individual or organization holding a large amount of bitcoin, enabling those that hold enough cryptocurrencies to manipulate the valuation of currencies, with potential to dilute short-term supply and add price pressure to bitcoin, per Marcus Sotiriou, analyst of UK-based digital asset broker, GlobalBlock.

UAE showing potential to become a global “crypto hub”

Regulations have been moving forward in Abu Dhabi, the capital and second-most populous city of the United Arab Emirates UAE, towards becoming a crypto-friendly region during the last few weeks. Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, announced on Monday that it was approved by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) to act as a broker-dealer for digital assets. In addition, Abu Dhabi-based broker-dealer Securrency Capital announced on Wednesday that it has obtained a Financial Services Permission (FSP) from the Abu Dhabi Global Markets FSRA.

Reports further indicated that Abu Dhabi capitalized on the hostile stance of other countries when UK regulatory agencies imposed restrictions on Binance by preventing them from conducting regulated activities. Singapore also forced Binance to shut down its trading platform after warning that the country's central bank may have violated local payment laws. GlobalRock commented that it would not be surprising if the UAE became a crypto "global hub" over the next five years, as adaptation is slow in other countries.

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