Some of the world’s largest financial platforms and exchanges that support a variety of investors have started to adopt bitcoin at a rapid pace, providing sufficient liquidity and infrastructure around bitcoin and its market.
Integration of Bitcoin by Major Financial Platforms
Earlier this week, CME, the global financial sector’s leading options exchange, officially announced that its bitcoin futures exchange will be launched by the second week of December. Consequently, $95 billion hedge fund Man Group revealed its short-term plan to include bitcoin in its portfolio of assets.
Square, the $15 billion payments app, which is led by CEO Jack Dorsey, the founder and CEO of Twitter, also revealed that it has integrated bitcoin over the past week, allowing users to purchase and sell bitcoin through its mobile app.
“We’re always listening to our customers and we’ve found that they are interested in using the Cash App to buy Bitcoin. We’re exploring how Square can make this experience faster and easier, and have rolled out this feature to a small number of Cash App customers. We believe cryptocurrency can greatly impact the ability of individuals to participate in the global financial system and we’re excited to learn more here,” said a Square spokesperson.
As of current, Square’s bitcoin feature operates similar to a bitcoin wallet and brokerage, which enables existing users to buy, sell, and store bitcoin. Users cannot make payments with bitcoin through the Square app and its network yet, but full integration of bitcoin is on the roadmap of Square.
In consideration of the Square app’s 3 million active user base, Square will likely be able to penetrate into the bitcoin market at a rapid pace in the upcoming months, competing against existing wallet and brokerage service providers such as Coinbase.
Rapid Adoption of Bitcoin by Merchants
Square’s integration of bitcoin and the company’s enthusiasm towards bitcoin as a decentralized cryptocurrency is particularly optimistic for the long-term growth of bitcoin, given that the adoption of mainstream investors, payments applications, and financial service providers would ultimately lead to the adoption of merchants.
For instance, Square operates a widely utilized Point of Sale (PoS) network which merchants and stores such as restaurants, cafes, and retailers use to receive payments via credit and debit cards, and cash. The integration of bitcoin into the Square PoS network, which the company is not considering at the time of reporting, would allow bitcoin users to use the cryptocurrency at hundreds of thousands of locations.
In Japan, several major PoS network operators including Recruit Lifestyle have already begun the process of rolling out bitcoin across their networks of more than 260,000 merchants.
“Some other stores are also preparing Air Regi bitcoin payments. Also, adding to existing 260,000 stores that already use Air Regi, we will cooperate with Recruit Lifestyle to expand the stores that accept bitcoin,” Kagayaki Kawabata, Coincheck International Business Developer, told Bitcoin.com in an interview.
Currently, around 10,000 merchants in Japan accept bitcoin as a payment method, while only a relatively small portion of retailers and stores in the US accept bitcoin payments. By mid-2018, given the rapid adoption rate of bitcoin by popular payments platforms, hundreds of thousands of merchants would likely accept bitcoin in the mid-term.