Despite many advantages, cryptocurrency still suffers from some highly noticeable disadvantages. Firstly, its lack of fungibility—the inability to convert the currency into readily available goods and services—prevents the “hands-on” experience that this area requires. But what if there were a way to convert our crypto into something fungible, like a gift card?
Toto, We Aren’t A Cashless Society—Yet
We are still considered a cash-based society, despite popular belief. However, while cash still finds a comfortable spot in our wallets, the demand for debit cards, credit cards, and gift cards is most definitely there. Why? It’s more seamless and easier to carry around a few pieces of plastic than a bulky wallet with a lot of green. At least that holds true with the millennial demographic.
Gift cards provide a mechanism by which individuals are able to easily and seamlessly convert their funds into readily available goods and services.
But where cryptocurrency falters, gift cards excel. “It’s a means to an end for the crypto product, not the other way around,” according to Zeex, a platform that allows users to buy and sell gift cards—digitally or physically, using fiat money.
By allowing individuals to buy cryptocurrency with their gift cards and vouchers, they can then liquidate their money at any time, instantly.
Why Remove The Middleman?
Currently, gift cards face the challenge of answering to intermediaries. They are tied to individual holders. Implementing this mechanism would seamlessly connect both spaces, allowing for seamless transferability between holders.
The underlying blockchain technology makes intermediaries obsolete by embedding transaction records in a distributed database, which reduces transaction costs and market friction.
Wrappin’ It Up With Blockchain
While crypto-based credit cards aim to bridge the gap between the intangible fungibility of cryptocurrency and tangible fiat, they are not without their issues. As we’ve heard countless times already, blockchain presents a solution to addressing insecurity and decentralization, allowing merchants and buyers to connect directly.
High Intermediary Fees
The first issue is that many of these crypto-based cards still have an insane amount of fees. Individuals who wish to use their crypto-money at any given moment should be able to do so, without the hassle of having to pay exchange fees or conversion fees. The team behind Zeex believes that utilizing a platform which allows a holder to go around the credit card companies, directly to merchants, minimizes the stress of conversion fees.
Cutting The Cord
Secondly, utilizing an intermediary opens up the very real possibility that the “cord” could be cut at any given time, even mid-use. “Having the ability to purchase crypto-giftcards directly from partner vendors via fiat and sold to crypto-users is a huge step in a positive direction,” according to Zeex.
Thirdly, digital gift cards are no stranger to payment fraud and the double-spend scenario. Payment fraud, also known as buyer fraud, involves the use of stolen financials when purchasing digital gift cards from an e-commerce merchant. The liability for the chargeback, and the overall risk on the merchant’s end, are exorbitant.
The other form of this, known as the double spending issue, involves having keys passed around before a holder has the chance to use it. When an individual comes to possess the card, the funds are already insecure. Why? Because all parties now hold and/or own the same code, and can use it at any moment.
This problem presents the need to create a protocol that provides merchants with the ability to distribute and sell gift cards on a blockchain, in a safe manner, without worrying about the double spending issue.
This space will continue to present new questions and new answers in regard to these issues, as we learn about new studies and research on the topic.