Christmas, Bitcoin and Getting Back to Original Intent

At every Christmas party this past year I was asked about Bitcoin.  Given I recently taught a FinTech course I developed for Simon Fraser University, it felt like everyone at the party stopped to hear what I was going to say.  It reminded me of those famous E.F. Hutton commercials, well my broker is E.F. Hutton and E.F. Hutton says...

 

It’s funny how something that was designed as an efficient payment app is now an investment.  From the Winklevoss twins, to Hedge Funds, to CBOE Derivative contracts, we have turned Bitcoin into a speculative frenzy.  We forget its original intent as a payment app built with the blockchain technology.

Recently I had a chance to catch up with SinglePoint, the firm that is behind the voting technology of Dancing with the Stars, Deal or No Deal, and other TV shows. Now they are building mobile payment apps for the Medical and recreational marijuana dispensary business. The hardest part for medical dispensaries is attracting capital, getting bank accounts, and accepting payments.

Cannabis and Bitcoin, now there’s a combination.

I spoke to Wil Ralston, President of Singlepoint, who has built a merchant wallet application that ties into the POS terminals for dispensary merchants to accept bitcoin. The solution is called the Cannabis Transaction Purchasing system. The new solution can be utilized by any business from convenience stores to dispensaries in the 29 legal states and District of Columbia.

The challenge with this model is that you need a critical mass of users.  It’s one thing being able to accept bitcoin at the terminal as easy as say ApplePay, or Google Wallet, it’s another thing when most bitcoin buyers are buy and hold speculators.  The challenge is how to get users to have bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency and spend it. It’s the old chicken and egg problem, accepting bitcoin but no one spending it.

What SinglePoint is trying to do is make it easier for users to acquire bitcoin.  This is their Exchange they are building out that they hope is comparable to Coinbase.  Their focus is to make it easier to acquire bitcoin and enable users in a geographical area to be able to go to marijuana dispensaries and say you can have consumers pay in bitcoin, here is how many users are in your area.  Once the merchant accept bitcoin, they can use it to pay employees, suppliers or convert to fiat.

While it doesn’t solve their bank account problems, it does give them another payment option. There is yet to be a standout leader in the cannabis payments space, and SinglePoint is looking to leverage their success on mobile voting technology to a specialized industry mobile payment offering.

I applaud these type of innovations in the market, especially in an industry that has not received in the regulatory support needed to do business they are authorized to do.

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