Following our first digital currency blog post that answers the simple, yet complex question: What is digital currency? It’s time to delve into a topic that can seem endless: The adoption and use cases of digital currencies, which have changed the global economy in many ways, in turn becoming interwoven into the daily lives of all Americans, even those who don’t own or utilize the currency. Let’s examine some of the innumerable adoption and use cases of digital currencies.
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Digital currency adoption refers to the widespread acceptance and use of digital currencies as a medium of exchange or store of value within an economy or society. Digital currencies, also known as cryptocurrencies, are decentralized and typically rely on blockchain technology to secure and record transactions. Bitcoin and Ethereum are two well-known examples of digital currencies.
The process of adoption involves people and businesses embracing digital currencies as a legitimate form of payment and integrating them into their daily financial activities.
While the global adoption of digital currencies has been on a steady rise, the past two years have been turbulent to the industry, with the extent of adoption varying based on geographic and monetary factors. Nonetheless, a current snapshot of digital currency adoption can be understood through a handful of themes, including:
Some key drivers of the global wave of digital currency adoption include:
With digital currency adoption climbing the priority list of the global finance community, real-world use case examples have exploded in recent years. Here are just a handful of ever-evolving use cases of digital currencies.
Cross-border transactions, as they relate to digital currencies, refer to financial exchanges involving cryptocurrencies that occur between individuals, businesses, or financial institutions located in different countries or regions. These transactions utilize digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies, to transfer value across international borders. Despite the numerous benefits of cross-border transactions, the financial exchanges also face a variety of challenges, including regulatory complexities, market volatility, and the need for broader adoption and infrastructure development. However, as the global recognition and adoption of digital currencies continue to grow, cross-border transactions are expected to become more seamless, efficient, and widely utilized in international commerce and finance.
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Financial inclusion through digital currencies refers to the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to provide financial services to individuals who have limited access to traditional banking systems. Some use cases of financial inclusion include remittances, microtransactions, digital payments, protection of wealth from inflation, access to credit, access to savings and investments, and more.
Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and digital currencies are transforming the future of finance. DeFi refers to a set of financial services and applications built on blockchain technology, enabling peer-to-peer transactions without the need for intermediaries like banks. The rise of cryptocurrencies has allowed DeFi to gain momentum, promising greater financial inclusion, efficiency, and transparency. By utilizing DeFi platforms, users gain access to a range of financial services, including lending, borrowing, trading, and earning yields through decentralized protocols. Further, smart contracts–programmable agreements that execute automatically when specific conditions are met–form the backbone of DeFi, ensuring trustless and secure transactions.
Businesses are increasingly utilizing digital currencies for various purposes–including payments and transactions, international trade, investments and capital raised, supply chain management and much more–taking advantage of the benefits offered by blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
Digital currencies have single-handedly changed how retailers and consumers navigate and purchase e-commerce goods. Chiefly, digital currencies have provided consumers an alternative way to purchase goods on the internet, but their influence on the multi-trillion dollar e-commerce industry goes much deeper than that:
Enterprise businesses have adopted digital currency applications in a wide variety of ways, changing the way huge companies pay their employees, boost customer experiences, and conduct business. Here are a couple examples of how enterprise businesses have utilized digital currencies:
A topic that could be discussed at great length is the governmental adoption of digital currencies. While only a handful of nations have fully embraced digital currencies–some of them, like El Salvador, actually adopting Bitcoin as its national currency–many leading countries, including the U.S. have welcomed certain aspects of digital currency, but have repeatedly declared the need for further governmental regulation of the space.
The rise of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) have emerged as a significant trend in the global financial landscape. CBDCs are digital representations of a country’s national currency issued and controlled by its central bank. The concept gained traction due to the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, and the advancement of blockchain technology. Several factors have contributed to the rise of CBDCs. Firstly, the digitization of payments and financial services has become more prevalent, prompting central banks to explore digital alternatives to cash. Secondly, the rapid growth of private cryptocurrencies raised concerns among regulators about financial stability, consumer protection, and potential loss of control over monetary policy. Further, several countries have started piloting or researching CBDCs, with China’s digital yuan being one of the most advanced initiatives. The European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and other major central banks have also been actively exploring the possibilities of CBDCs
The use cases of cryptocurrencies are diverse and broad, but they each carry certain similarities, including facilitating fast and cheap cross-border payments, enabling DeFi applications including lending and borrowing, creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for unique digital assets, enhancing supply chain transparency, promoting financial inclusion by providing access to basic financial services, supporting charitable donations, enabling micropayments for digital content, and serving as a store of value in regions with unstable fiat currencies. Further, cryptocurrencies are heavily relied on in gaming; implementing smart contracts for secure and transparent agreements. The true list is long and expansive.
Another question on which scores of books could be written on, as cryptocurrency use cases have become interwoven into the daily fabric of all lives, even for individuals who do not own or trade the commodities. Examples include online shopping, remittances, peer-to-peer payments, crypto ATMs, NFTs and digital collectables, donations and charitable contributions, and much, much more. Let’s further analyze a couple examples.
Cryptocurrencies have transformed online shopping in many ways, chiefly by offering a decentralized and borderless payment method. With the acceptance of cryptocurrencies as payment options, shoppers can make purchases globally without relying on traditional banking systems or currency conversions. This enhances payment security and reduces transaction fees for cross-border shopping. Moreover, cryptocurrencies enable fast and direct peer-to-peer transactions, eliminating the need for intermediaries like banks and payment processors. Online retailers and e-commerce platforms that embrace cryptocurrencies as a payment method attract tech-savvy customers and cater to the growing demand for more diverse and flexible payment options, reshaping the landscape of online shopping.
Businesses have integrated cryptocurrencies into their practices by adopting digital payment options, accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment for goods and services. Further, they have embraced blockchain technology for supply chain management and ensured the transparency and authenticity of products. The rise of DeFi has enabled businesses to explore innovative financial services, including borrowing, lending, and yield farming. Some companies have tokenized real-world assets, allowing fractional ownership and increased liquidity. Additionally, businesses have leveraged non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for digital art, collectibles, and gaming applications, creating new revenue streams and engaging with customers in novel ways. The use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology continues to inspire innovative solutions across various industries.
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Cryptocurrencies have introduced transformative changes to the payroll system by streamlining payment processes and increasing efficiency; with the ability to facilitate direct peer-to-peer transactions, cryptocurrencies enable instant salary payments to employees, eliminating delays associated with traditional banking systems. As a result, this enhances financial inclusion, notably for remote or unbanked employees who may face challenges with standard payroll methods. Cryptocurrencies further offer cost-effective international salary transfers, reducing transaction fees and currency conversion costs for multinational companies. The utilization of blockchain technology has allowed for secure and tamper-resistant payroll records, resulting in reduced risk of errors or disputes.
Companies have leveraged cryptocurrencies to raise capital through various fundraising methods. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) allow companies to issue and sell their own digital tokens in exchange for cryptocurrencies, enabling them to fund projects and initiatives. Security Token Offerings (STOs) involve the issuance of tokens representing ownership in traditional assets like real estate or company shares, providing a regulated and compliant fundraising option. While Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs) involve token sales conducted on cryptocurrency exchanges, giving companies access to a wider investor base. These cryptocurrency-based fundraising methods allow for democratized investment opportunities and allow companies to raise capital internationally, however varying levels of regulatory scrutiny and investor protection do apply.
For the better part of two decades, digital currencies have progressively become an interwoven and crucial piece of the global economic ecosystem. As countries of varying GDP levels become reliant–even if hesitant–on digital currencies, massive companies have adopted them for pivotal business needs, and consumers have utilized them for purchases, investments, and privacy. Digital currencies and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin has long been household names, while rising stars like XRP have carved out their own share of the digital currency space. Digital currencies have long affected daily life, and will continue to do so, in greater leaps everyday. Be sure to read the first piece in our digital currency series, and stay connected with our blog to read all of our original articles.