If you’ve been crying over your crypto wallet due to all the negative headlines about digital currencies, then now is the time to dry your eyes and thank Fidelity for giving crypto enthusiasts the greatest sign of approval since BTC and ETH peaked last year.
Fidelity announced this week that it has enabled cryptocurrency trading in retail accounts. Fidelity Crypto, as the offering is called, enables retail accountholders to buy and sell both Bitcoin and ethereum with as little as $1. The new functionality will be available in 35 U.S. states initially – California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Texas are among them. Fidelity plans to bring the technology to other states; the company is offering an early-access sign-up to let interested customers know when Fidelity Crypto is approved in their state. Similarly, the company is examining other cryptocurrencies with the potential to “expand trading opportunities over time.”
The fallout from FTX and the collapse of even the most widely traded cryptocurrencies have been only a few of the headwinds that might have convinced Fidelity to wait longer to launch its crypto trading capability. As recently as this month, a group of senators including Elizabeth Warren asked the company to reconsider its plan to enable its customers to invest up to 20% of their retirement savings in Bitcoin. Clearly those eager for signs of spring amid this crypto winter need look no further than Fidelity.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, French fintech Ledger has launched its crypto debit card in the U.K. and Europe. The new Crypto Life card enables users to transfer crypto between Ledger’s hardware wallets and card accounts via Ledger’s Ledger Live app. Crypto Life offers 1% crypto rewards in both Bitcoin and USDT, as well as offering 2$ in BXX, the native token of Baanx. Baanx is the U.K.-based fintech that developed the technology for Crypto Life.
Ledger users can use Crypto Life at approximately 90 million merchants and online stores across the U.K. and Europe that accept Mastercard. Ledger VP of International Development JF Rochet called the new offering an “easy and secure solution to pay with crypto that also allows you to self-custody until you want to top up.”
Headquartered in Paris, France, and founded in 2015, Ledger demoed its technology one year later at FinovateEurope 2016. The company specializes in trusted hardware solutions for Bitcoin and blockchain applications, which it distributes both directly via online sales as well as through an international network of retail merchants.
Sticking with the crypto-across-the-pond theme, we read news that Kriptomat, a cryptocurrency platform based in Estonia, has teamed up with U.K.-based payment gateway provider Volt. The goal of the partnership is to give customers the ability to make account-to-account payments, in real-time, to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies.
More than 500,000 cryptocurrency traders and investors on the Kriptomat platform are expected to benefit from the partnership. Previously, Kriptomat customers were required to use methods such as bank transfers, credit cards, and even e-wallets to make their transactions. Integrating with Volt payments will enable customers to be seamlessly directed to their banking app when paying with Volt, where they can authorize payments using their preferred authentication method. The result is a faster, more streamlined, and less costly way for Kriptomat customers to fund their crypto purchases.
“Today’s new crypto users are more like car owners, who expect to turn the key and have it work immediately – without learning the ins and outs of the processes that happen in the background,” Kriptomat CEO Srdjan Mahmutovic said. “Volt’s technology has helped us provide that level of usability to our customer base.”
The news that many feared was coming to BlockFi arrived this week as the cryptocurrency company, which carved out a niche in the space as a lender for small cryptocurrency investors, filed for bankruptcy. The company’s Chapter 11 filing follows the bankruptcy filings of other cryptocurrency lenders such as Celsius Network and Voyager Digital, both of which tapped out in July. But the far more looming shadow over BlockFi’s misfortunes is clearly the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, with which BlockFi was financially entangled.
That said, both BlockFi’s bankruptcy declaration and the opening statement from BlockFi attorney Joshua Sussberg in court yesterday were attempts to do as much untangling as possible. Sussberg referred to BlockFi, which FTX both financially supported and – at one point – moved to acquire, as the “antithesis of FTX.” He credited BlockFi for its “focus on creating an opportunity for people that otherwise don’t have access to the financial system.”
If Fidelity can be credited for the “giant leap” in crypto this week, should we salute JP Morgan’s “small step” of securing a crypto wallet trademark?
There’s a certain sport in highlighting any pro-crypto moves by JP Morgan – given the the outspoken crypto-skepticism of the bank’s legendary CEO Jamie Dimon. As a refresher, Dimon has referred to cryptocurrencies as “decentralized Ponzi schemes,” and said that the “notion that (crypto) is good for anybody is unbelievable.”
But that’s not stopping the bank he runs from expressing some crypto curiosity including, this week, news that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has approved of the J.P. Morgan Wallet. According to the registered trademark, the J.P. Morgan Wallet supports “virtual currency transfer + exchange, crypto payment processing, virtual checking accounts, and financial services.”
JP Morgan has been open about its interest in launching a digital wallet since October. Despite the disinterest of the bank’s CEO in most things crypto, JP Morgan has worked with Fidelity and New York Bank Mellon to offer various cryptocurrency related services and, earlier this month, completed the first cross-border transaction using decentralized finance (DeFi) on a public blockchain.