CryptoCurrencyWire Editorial Coverage: Less than a decade ago, blockchain sounded like the fodder of science fiction; today, the technology is demonstrating its ability to revolutionize the finance industry. By stepping outside the existing payment structures, blockchain provides a new and secure way to execute financial transactions. The use of the technology is rapidly expanding, and because of the innovative nature of the technology, its wide-ranging possibilities are being explored and developed by a range of companies with unique objectives. Some, such as SinglePoint, Inc. (SING) (SING Profile), are looking at how to integrate these technologies to provide a better service for select markets. While alarming articles predict the bursting of the “blockchain bubble,” established companies such as Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Mastercard, Inc. (MA) have moved to adopt blockchain technology, signalling its acceptance by mainstream banking. Meanwhile, companies such as Bitcoin Services, Inc. (BTSC) and Discover Financial Services (DFS) continue looking for new ways to exploit the technology’s potential.
The Future of Payment
Blockchain is a system for recording and sharing information, including financial data. Because of the way data is stored within a blockchain, there is no need for a central organization tasked with controlling records. This decentralization makes it easier to transfer data or money while reducing the risk of fraud or error. The benefits are such that the World Economic Forum has predicted that 10% of GDP will be stored on blockchain technology by 2025.
Blockchain has become famous mostly through the meteoric rise of bitcoin, which has seen the market value of cryptocurrencies rise to over $540 billion. But its use goes far beyond this. Its ability to verify clients and products is expected to lead to better records of property ownership and certification of diamonds. It could provide smart contracts that automatically pay out when success criteria are hit. By acting as a secure system for direct payments, it will reduce the need for intermediaries in financial systems, allowing people to make payments more quickly and directly.
Putting the Pieces Together
One of the companies seeking to take advantage of these capabilities is SinglePoint (SING), which has grown from a mobile technology provider into a diverse holding company with a growing portfolio of investments in blockchain-related technology. SinglePoint’s aggressive, acquisition-based growth strategy has seen it dramatically expand its services and brand awareness in the investment community.
SinglePoint is implementing blockchain to the core of its business strategy, specifically as it pertains to the cannabis and other “high-risk” industries. By acquiring companies and technologies with established roots in blockchain services, SinglePoint can provide increasingly integrated options for blockchain-based payment systems. For example, the company’s recent agreement to acquire Bitcoin Beyond will provide SinglePoint a user-friendly point-of-sale payment system that will provide merchants and bitcoin users a range of unprecedented capabilities. Bitcoin Beyond was created to overcome the challenges of merchants in the cannabis industry, which is crippled by cash management issues due to the lack of banking options. Functioning as a general-purpose point-of-sale system, Bitcoin Beyond is poised to address the growing demand for fast and reliable electronic payment processing for the cannabis industry.
“We are thrilled with this opportunity. Acquiring Bitcoin Beyond put us ahead of what we believe merchants have access to now. This platform has by far the easiest user interface we have seen in the market, and we are confident merchants will be quick to adopt this solution as it stands as the sole alternative to traditional options offered to the cannabis industry,” SinglePoint President Wil Ralston stated in the press release (http://nnw.fm/l7DK5).
One of the advantages of the Bitcoin Beyond System is that it makes cryptocurrency transactions easy by instantly doing the conversion for USD for merchants and customers. It can process payments in bitcoin, the most popular blockchain payment system, from any web-enabled terminal available at checkout, from a cell phone or tablet to a full PC.
SinglePoint also has its own proprietary bitcoin exchange (app.singleseed.com), launched in November 2017. Customers can easily sign up using a credit or debit card, then use the system to benefit from blockchain’s quick, secure payments.
SinglePoint’s commitment to integrated solutions extends beyond acquiring companies and into collaborations. The company has agreements with various businesses, including fintech solutions provider Global Payout (GOHE), to advance and streamline the process involved in delivering payment applications.
The company has also teamed up with SharkTank veteran and entrepreneur Kevin Harrington – which has led 20 companies to reach revenues of over $100 million – to develop and promote a range of cryptocurrency projects, including SinglePoint’s exchange and bitcoin payment platform and the integration of Procurrency, an e-commerce and rewards platform using blockchain currency (http://nnw.fm/qV7Xp).
With these initiatives, SinglePoint is tapping into not just one fast-growing sector but two, as many of its financial and technological solutions are geared toward cannabis merchants.
Financial Services for a New Market
With cannabis sales now legal in 29 U.S. states, and legislators opening the way to recreational as well as medical use, cannabis is a lucrative business. But federal legislation designed for the war on illegal drugs has created problems for legal cannabis businesses. Many are unable to access the financial services available to other companies and have been forced to work on a cash basis, making them vulnerable to theft and fraud. Blockchain payment systems provide them with a secure alternative to cash payments without needing to engage with banks.
Services such as SingleSeed are specifically geared toward this market, providing a much-needed product for a growing industry. SinglePoint’s blockchain-based services allow secure payments for cannabis merchants. Its collaborations with other companies, including developing mobile apps with AppSwarm (SWRM), ensure that these services are easily accessible. SinglePoint’s willingness to move quickly is vital in these fast-growing sectors. The AppSwarm collaboration began with an aim to launch their first app within 90 days.
SinglePoint’s services for the cannabis sector show how blockchain technology and the companies behind it can provide more than just financial solutions. The work with AppSwarm will allow safe delivery to customers in their homes, increasing the speed, security, and efficiency of the cannabis supply chain.
The technology provided by SinglePoint goes beyond just a payment system. It also provides vendors with a system to digitally track their inventories, provide information about products to customers, and automatically remove products from the inventory once sold. Though this is currently targeted at cannabis suppliers, it is a system that could be useful for any cash-based business looking for a more secure way to operate. Thanks to money from the fast-growing legal cannabis market, SinglePoint is creating software that will be useful for all manner of small businesses.
SinglePoint’s interest in integrating systems and supply chains extends into other parts of the cannabis industry. The company recently established a joint venture with Smart Cannabis (SCNA), making a major move into California’s cannabis market before blanket marijuana legalization in that state. Having previously acquired Discount Indoor Garden Supply in California and invested in California-based cannabis equipment supplier Convectium, SinglePoint is now the owner or investor in products and services covering the whole cannabis supply chain. It is in a position to provide the same sort of integrated services it has pioneered in blockchain payments.
The partnership with Smart Cannabis is particularly valuable in capturing market share within California’s red-hot commercial marijuana cultivation market. Smart Cannabis provides a range of innovative products for cannabis growers, including automated greenhouse systems and a unique seed-to-sale app. Seed-to-sale systems are important in managing cannabis sales and ensuring compliance with government regulations. The joint venture will allow the two companies to incorporate blockchain currency into Smart Cannabis’ SMARTAPP and sell it to growers, integrating seed-to-sale and payment mechanisms (http://nnw.fm/t2SAz).
The Bigger Picture on Blockchain
While SinglePoint is providing some of the most interesting examples of integrated systems using blockchain, an increasing number of companies are also exploring the services this technology can provide.
Bank of America (BAC), the second largest bank in America and the largest wealth management company in the world, has long distanced itself from bitcoin, the leading blockchain currency. But as the holder of at least 27 blockchain patents and 39 relating to cryptocurrency, including some for exchanging currencies, it is clear that the bank is interested in the broader technologies. CEO Brian Moynihan has played down the bank’s interest in cryptocurrencies, even as his organisation prepares for a future built around blockchain.
Mastercard (MA), one of the largest payment processing companies in the world, prides itself on its forward-looking approach to finance, listing “Putting technology first” among its areas of focus. It has repeatedly shown an interest in blockchain. In a patent filed on the 9th of November 2017, it set out details for a blockchain database that would reduce delays in payment transfers. Like Bank of America, its leaders are pro-blockchain but anti-bitcoin.
Bitcoin Services (BTSC) provides support services for people dealing in the most prominent blockchain currency, bitcoin. The company is also working on developing blockchain software, as this technology keeps moving forward.
Direct banking and payments company Discover Financial Services (DFS) has singled out blockchain as one of the most important technologies shaping the future of payments. Describing blockchain as secure, transparent, and closer in the way it works to cash than to card payments, Discover has identified the technology as one to keep an eye on. Though the company has not yet announced any blockchain innovations of its own, comments on its Discover Network suggest it is preparing its customers for a blockchain future (http://nnw.fm/BlW3O).
Like any transformative technology, blockchain creates challenges as well as benefits. It relies on large data sets, meaning that new infrastructure may be needed to support widespread use. Its ability to provide direct payments with a minimal data trail has created concerns about money laundering and regulatory oversight. But the genie is out of the bottle, and given its benefits, the question isn’t whether anyone will overcome these challenges, it is who will.
For more information on SinglePoint, visit SinglePoint (SING)
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