about 4 years ago • 2 mins
Two of the world’s biggest players in smartphones and payments have deepened their ties to cryptocurrencies in recent days – but while prices creep up, US authorities continue to blow hot and cold 🤧
Samsung – the South Korean company responsible for 19% of world phone sales – last week unveiled a host of new crypto security support features in its latest Galaxy models. And on Wednesday, mainstream payments company Visa – which famously quit Facebook’s Libra stablecoin consortium last year – welcomed Coinbase as a “principal member”, allowing the cryptocurrency exchange expanded access to its services.
In contrast to progress in Europe, however, US authorities are still dragging their heels when it comes to supporting cryptocurrency use. True, the much-criticized American taxman is now reaching out to firms in the sector – and a senior figure at the country’s main financial regulator this month drew up encouraging plans to allow new crypto projects a three-year “safe harbor” before falling foul of strict US investment laws. But the government is also mulling a crackdown in some areas… 😧
Bitcoin is currently sitting above $10,000 a pop, and ether’s price has more than doubled this year. But those gains may be more down to hope than the expectation of expanding cryptocurrency usage.
Indeed, cryptos’ utility as a means of payment on Samsung phones or Visa cards may be undermined by investors’ speculative HODLing – as pointed out by a senior UK economist last week.
For a vision of an alternative future, meanwhile, look no further than China. Its central bank last week filed for 84 new tech patents related to a planned digital yuan as it bids to launch a national “cryptocurrency” ahead of the US ⚔️
Countries are increasingly keen on gaining insight into (and control over) the spending habits of their citizens – and avoiding some of the less obvious drawbacks of cash. But the upshot for existing cryptos remains obscure.