The cryptocurrency ecosystem has grown tremendously over the past decade, steadily creating viable, innovative alternatives to traditional financial systems and networks. Only a few years ago, cryptocurrency was seen by most mainstream financial analysts as little more than a hype-driven Ponzi scheme. If you weren’t a high-risk speculator, a darkweb drug dealer, or a blockchain-obsessed tech entrepreneur, these experts warned, you should stay far, far away from bitcoin and its rivals. Cryptocurrency was just another fad, they claimed, and it would never see real-world use..
Those “experts” couldn’t have been more wrong. Today, entire industries are being disrupted by cryptocurrency. As more and more small-to-midsize businesses see the value of sidestepping credit card companies and banks, cryptocurrency-based payment systems are becoming increasingly common. In this article, we’re going to take a look at five industries that have fully embraced the cryptocurrency revolution.
1. Artists & Craftspeople: Making a living as an artist or craftsperson is already hard enough without the constant headache of disputed credit card and PayPal payments. “Chargebacks” are a problem throughout the eCommerce world, but for one-person operations — where every moment spent disputing a bogus refund with a bank represents time not spent making new items for sale — they can be truly crippling. Is it any wonder that craftspeople and artists around the world increasingly prefer instantly settled, nonreversible cryptocurrency payments? Unlike established storefront providers like Etsy or eBay, newer crypto-focused platforms like OpenBazaar even have powerful settlement tools, like escrow, built right in.
2. Freelancing: Although freelancers work in a huge variety of industries — coding, graphic design, journalism, copywriting, web design, and translation, among many others — most share a common problem: getting paid. Most freelancing services take a huge cut of their earnings — as much as 20% — while also withholding settled payments for weeks. For freelancers in countries with limited access to traditional banking, these problems only get worse. By allowing for middleman-free, international transactions that settle in moments, cryptocurrency is increasingly becoming the preferred method of payment for freelancers across the globe.
3. Remittances: Sending money back home through traditional money transmitters is expensive, with a global average fee of around 7%. While this pricing may seem predatory — spending $14 to send $200 to someone in another country certainly seems high — the real villains here are inefficiency and overhead. It costs a lot of money to keep a money transfer shop open and secure, and even more to keep the private settle network running. Because public cryptocurrency blockchains already handle the overhead of securely transferring value from one place to another, costs for crypto-powered remittance companies are much lower. This results in dramatically lower fees, often less than 1%. Not surprisingly, dozens of cryptocurrency remittance startups are already gaining market share across the world, and even major players like Western Union are looking into cost-reducing blockchain solutions for their networks.
4. Real Estate: If you’ve ever purchased a house, you already know just how slow, inefficient, and filled with middlemen the real estate industry is. Once you remove banks and traditional money transfer systems from the equation, however, buying real estate becomes a much more rational and smooth process. This is particularly true in international real estate sales, where much of the delay and paperwork comes from moving money from one country to another. This is a problem cryptocurrency is designed to solve, and the number of crypto-using real estate firms and platforms has boomed over the last few years.
5. Nonprofits: Most nonprofit organizations operate on razor-thin margins, making every donated dollar count far more than it would at a for-profit business. While many payment providers offer reduced fees for nonprofits, those fees still add up. By receiving donations in cryptocurrency, however, those fees only become a problem when the crypto tokens are cashed out. Major nonprofits, such as the Red Cross and United Way, have experimented with cryptocurrency donations, while cryptocurrency-backed projects like the $55 million Pineapple Fund have helped to push the concept into the mainstream.