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Will My Young Son Even Want a Bank Account?

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DeFi in the future: The question is not whether my son will need a traditional bank account when he’s older, says Simon Furlong, Co-Founder of Geode Finance. But will he want one? 

Given the Cambrian explosion of the decentralized economy, the question I find myself asking more often is: ‘will my newborn son have (or even need) a bank account when he’s older?’

Just five years ago, this question would have been laughable. Since its inception, the bank has served as the centerpiece of the global economic quilt. The economic fabric of that system seemingly unravels without the bank weaving it all together. 

Today, however, this question is not only legitimate but somewhat hard to answer. Especially considering the extensive capabilities of decentralized finance (DeFi). Now, an individual has the ability to trade, save, lend, borrow and stake assets to earn substantially more yield, all without a bank operating as an intermediary. 

Will the decentralized economy usurp the traditional economy? It may seem like a favorable alternative to younger generations. But what might that look like in the years to come? 

Bank are businesses

Since the dawn of human civilization, centralized ‘banks’ have been built up in the minds of the populace – framed as a cornerstone of societal order and prosperity. Most individuals can recount the coming-of-age experience of opening a bank account. However, closer examination of the foundation of this system reveals something extremely concerning. Banks are businesses. And oftentimes, predatory ones. 

While cryptocurrency empowers and enables a user to own their own assets and access them whenever they please, banks consistently look to take advantage of their users. The nefarious and predatory practices employed by banks not only extract value from users, but outright exploit their customers.

This is no more evident than in the practice of “cross-selling” used by Wells Fargo. The scandal found that, over the course of 14 years, bankers were directed to pressure customers. They persuaded them to open accounts that were not needed or requested. This was a way to collect exorbitant fees – ultimately culminating in a $3 billion criminal settlement.

This is not to say that all banks act criminally. This does, however, indicate that as private businesses banks will always operate in the best interests of their shareholders first. After all, that’s what businesses do. That’s their prime directive. To expect anything else of an inanimate entity could be seen as quite foolish.

That’s precisely why alternative paradigms like the decentralized finance ecosystem are so appealing. As we become wiser to these practices employed by banks and the ways in which they exploit their customers, the allure of cryptocurrency becomes more apparent. With no central authority, the crypto market does not play favorites, nor does it pressure users into poor financial decisions. 

Defi and the strength of the economy

Developments over the past couple of years have shed light on the state of the global economy. Namely, the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the global economy, and forced many people to reconsider where they could make and store money. 

As a result of the pandemic, nearly half of small businesses closed at least temporarily, and employers cut their staff by 39%. In response, the United States doled out north of $5 trillion in relief to individuals and businesses to help them survive the economic crisis.

Where did this money come from? A printer. As individual Americans received cash payments of $1,200, concerns grew over mounting inflation rates and the economic stability of the country after printing and handing out so much money. Interestingly, this kickstarted the crypto boom of 2020. 

Cryptocurrency exchanges noticed a substantial uptick in asset purchases in the amount of $1,200. This indicated that people were fearful of having cash on-hand, and, instead, felt it safer to park their capital into crypto assets. All told, 11% of young adults moved their stimulus checks into cryptocurrency – a 4% uptick from the six months prior.

Interestingly, of the young adults who invested in crypto assets, 60% viewed digital assets as a long-term investment. As the markets continue to recover from the pandemic, the younger generation may continue exploring alternatives to traditional banking and investment strategies, given the uncertainty within the market. 

Crypto Could Be Akin to Mobile Money With Regulator's Go Ahead, Says Kenyan Banker - beincrypto.com

DeFi: The promise

Let’s face it — the crypto economy is stronger than people care to admit. Pundits and naysayers are incredibly opportunistic when it comes to crypto’s growing pains. While it has not always been smooth sailing, a zoomed out perspective shows just how rapid the rise of the decentralized economy has been since its inception in 2009. 

Even during this turbulent time, there is still incredibly high conviction that the crypto markets will remain into the future. One of the primary reasons that the sentiment is higher than in past bear markets is because of the platforms and infrastructure that are now in place. Between DeFi, NFTs, DAOs, and the growth of blockchain infrastructure, the Web3 ecosystem is a far more robust entity than in previous years. 

Unlike previous years, many powerful players from the traditional investment world, including Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, and Kevin O’Leary, are all invested in the large platforms that dominate the space. Investments from these personalities indicate their level of conviction in the space, and the likelihood of its ultimate success. Previously, Web3 appeared as a degen playground. Now however, the space resembles the ease and usability of Web2, but with improved security and ownership.

With that said, it’s quite reasonable to conclude that by the time my son even entertains the idea of opening a bank account, Web3 will be so vastly improved that he may reconsider the need for a bank at all.

Economic freedom

Perhaps the primary reason my son may not need a bank account is the fact that cryptocurrency offers economic freedom in a way that the traditional economy cannot. On the surface, many make the assumption that financial freedom simply means having the financial means to do whatever one wishes. 

The notion of decentralized finance however, suggests that true economic freedom means an individual has complete control of their funds, with zero reliance on a third party. The promise of an economy free from banking intermediaries is only scratching the surface now, but will be the status quo by the time my son explores banking options. 

In the same vein, banks have working hours. Life, on the other hand, does not abide by the same standards. The ability to have round-the-clock access to funds is an incredibly novel concept that many are just now getting accustomed to. In the years to come, the immediacy with which users can move funds will only become more important, and even more attractive. 

The bottom line

The decentralized economy is gaining ground on traditional banking by the day. To be clear, the Web3 space will need to continue making major strides to truly compete with the standard, centralized economy. There are currently still difficulties within the DeFi space, like self-custody of private keys, longform cryptographic addresses, nefarious actors… The list goes on. 

However, given the rate of improvement to this point, my confidence remains high that the decentralized ecosystem may be my son’s first choice for banking when that time comes.

About the Author

DeFi

Simon Furlong is the Co-Founder of Geode Finance, a white label liquid staking protocol for DAOs and DeFi protocols. Simon has more than a decade of combined experience in the financial, digital product, and media rights sectors, working previously as a risk analyst, product lead, and media rights director. His professional experiences and passions have inspired his mission to build products that support the growth of an efficient, decentralized, and vibrant Web3 ecosystem.

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US Treasury Sanctions Hit Russian Arms Dealer’s Crypto Wallets

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed full blocking sanctions on 22 individuals and entities across several countries, including Russia and Cyprus, as part of its sanctions evasion network that supports Russia’s military-industrial complex.

The sanctions were imposed under Executive Order 14024 and are part of the U.S.’s strategy to target sanctions evasion globally, close key channels, and limit Russia’s access to revenue for its war in Ukraine.

US Treasury Goes After Russian Arms Dealer’s Cryptos

The U.S. Treasury’s sanctions were imposed by the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force, a multilateral effort to identify, freeze, and seize assets of sanctioned Russians worldwide. This task force leverages information from international REPO partners and key data from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to share information, track Russian assets, and sever Russian proxies from the international financial system.

The REPO Task Force aims to maximize the impact of multilateral sanctions while preventing opportunities for Russia to evade or circumvent U.S. and partner sanctions.

The primary target of the sanctions is a Russian sanctions evasion network led by Russia and Cyprus-based arms dealer Igor Zimenkov and his son Jonatan Zimenkov. The Zimenkov network has been involved in projects related to Russia’s defense capabilities, including supplying a Russian company with high-tech devices after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. They have also supported sanctioned state-owned Russian defense entities, Rosoboroneksport OAO and State Corporation Rostec, which are critical components of Russia’s military-industrial complex.

Igor and Jonatan Zimenkov have worked closely together to enable Russian defense sales to third-party governments and have engaged directly with Rosoboroneksport’s potential clients to facilitate sales of Russian defense material. Igor Zimenkov has also supported the Belarusian military-industrial complex by enabling the sales efforts of State Owned Foreign Trade Unitary Enterprise Belspetsvneshtechnika in Latin America.

Today, Igor Zimenkov was designated for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy, while Jonatan Zimenkov was designated for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for Igor Zimenkov, Rosoboroneksport, and other sanctioned entities.

The Zimenkov network used front companies to funnel money and maintain a lawful appearance. Singapore-based Zimenkov network shell company Asia Trading & Construction PTE Limited and its director, Serena Bee Lin Ng, have sold helicopters to clients in Africa on behalf of the Zimenkov network. Additionally, Cyprus-based Zimenkov network shell company Lobster Management Limited and its director, Mikhail Petrov, have facilitated sanctions evasion by providing support to sanctioned entities.

The Treasury’s OFAC continues to work with its international partners to coordinate information sharing and enforcement and to travel the world in pursuit of sanctions evasion. The sanctions imposed today are a clear signal to Russia and its military-industrial complex that the U.S. and its partners are committed to tightening sanctions enforcement and preventing the evasion of international sanctions.

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BeInCrypto has reached out to company or individual involved in the story to get an official statement about the recent developments, but it has yet to hear back.



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Digital Wallet Growth Will Enable More Closed-Loop Transactions

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Crypto and fintech investment firm Ark Invest has made bold predictions about digital wallets, estimating that more than half the world will soon be using at least one.

In its Jan. 31 ‘Big Ideas 2023’ research report, Ark Invest revealed that digital wallet global population penetration is currently 40%. This equates to around 3.2 billion users, the firm added.

However, the research suggests that the number of online wallet users will increase at an annual rate of 8%. The firm predicted that this will result in a global population penetration of 65% by 2030:

“Having onboarded billions of consumers and millions of merchants, digital wallets could transform the economics associated with traditional payment transactions, saving them nearly $50 billion in costs.”

It also noted that digital wallets were gaining market share in online and offline transactions. Cash is definitely in decline, accelerated by government initiatives to go digital, as recently seen in Nigeria.


Payment method trends - Ark Invest
Payment method trends – Ark Invest

Digital Wallet Growth to Continue

Ark reported that digital wallets were scaling faster than accounts at traditional financial institutions. Furthermore, U.S. digital wallet adoption rebounded in 2022, surpassing previous highs following a COVID-induced dip.

The firm estimates that U.S. digital wallet users will increase by 7% annually during the next eight years. This will be a growth of around 160 million in 2022 to more than 260 million by the end of the decade.

Digital wallet user growth - Ark Invest
Digital wallet user growth – Ark Invest

Furthermore, online wallets are enabling “closed-loop” ecosystems. This is where consumers and merchants can transact directly, cutting out the middleman. 

“Digital wallets are onboarding millions of merchants to platforms that enable direct consumer-merchant transactions that disintermediate traditional financial institutions,” it noted.

In this closed-loop environment, wallet providers capture more value per transaction, enabling savings to be shared with merchants and consumers.

Open and Closed Lopp transactions - Ark Invest
Open and Closed Lopp transactions – Ark Invest

Additionally, Ark noted that closed-loop transactions could boost the margin structure of wallet providers.

It used Block Inc. (formerly Square) as an example, stating that it paid around 60% of customer transaction fees to third parties in 2022. The fees were paid for interchange, assessment, processing, and bank settlement fees. Block’s net take rate could more than double if customers transacted directly with merchants.

Block Inc. fee structure - Ark Invest
Block Inc. fee structure – Ark Invest

Closed Loop Transactions Could Top 50%

Finally, Ark predicted that these closed-loop transactions could account for over 50% of digital payments by 2030.

It used China as an example where wallets and merchants are largely internal or domestic only.

Closed loop cost savings - Ark Invest
Closed loop cost savings – Ark Invest

In conclusion, digital wallet growth is set to continue. Cutting out the intermediary which they facilitate is beneficial to both the consumer and merchant.

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Strike Launches Lightning Remittances in the Philippines

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Bitcoin fintech giant Strike rolled out its Lightning Network money transfer service Send Globally in the Philippines, a $35 billion remittance market.

Send Globally launched in the Southeast Asian country on Jan. 31, 2023, enabling businesses and tourists to receive international money transfers in the Philippine peso. The country receives $35 billion in remittances globally.

How Strike’s Send Globally Service Works

“Remittances are a broken system and Strike delivers an incredibly empowering experience for people to send money around the world in nearly an instant,” Strike CEO Jack Mallers said.

According to a press release, Strike’s remittance service converts a sender’s fiat into Bitcoin and sends the Bitcoin to a Strike partner in the destination country using the Lightning Network, which in the case of the Philippines, is Pouch.ph. Pouch.ph then converts the Bitcoin to the recipient’s fiat currency and credits their bank or mobile money account, with Strike shielding both parties from the tax implications of handling Bitcoin directly.

Bitcoin’s Lightning Network is a layer-two solution on the Bitcoin blockchain that allows micropayments between nodes over a payment channel. Unlike traditional payment networks, Lightning’s low fees enable almost zero-cost remittances.

Recently, Mallers announced a trial to bring Bitcoin Lightning Network payments to retailers through a partnership with Fiserv’s point-of-sale solution Clover Commerce. The trial allows any application with Lightning capability to pay Bitcoin for goods and services at Clover merchants.

Philippine Smartphone and Internet Adoption Auger Well for Strike

Send Globally rolled out to Strike users in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya on Dec. 6, 2022, where it has reportedly gained rapid traction.

However, mainstream adoption in the Philippines will depend heavily on network effects, driven by smartphone and internet penetration.

According to Statista, the number of smartphone users will increase from 85 million in 2022 to 87 million by 2023. Additionally, forecasts suggest smartphone users will increase to 91.5 million in 2025, representing roughly 83% of the island nation’s population.

Smartphone Adoption in the Philippines
Smartphone Adoption in the Philippines | Source: Statista

Additionally, Statista predicts that about three-quarters of the population will have internet access by the end of 2023. Growing internet access increases the chance of Strike’s success, since it helped drive adoption of crypto game Axie Infinity.

For Be[In]Crypto’s latest Bitcoin (BTC) analysis, click here.

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BeInCrypto has reached out to company or individual involved in the story to get an official statement about the recent developments, but it has yet to hear back.



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