In addition to the projects and chains that have popped up left, right and centre during and since the ICO boom, the cryptocurrency space has also seen several ancillary projects that have focused on fundamental improvements to the market, as well as enhancements of the existing payments infrastructure.
The motivation of these projects has more to do with bringing the benefits and innovations of blockchain technologies to fiat payments systems - such as convincing merchants to integrate crypto payments solutions. These are also critical developments for the space, as obviously, the larger the general crypto network grows, the faster the rate of adoption will be.
While pioneering efforts like Bitcoin and Ethereum have shown themselves to be a cut above most of the rest, there is no doubt that initiatives that seek to attract fiat players to the blockchain and crypto space are important in bettering the prospects of the crypto space. Attracting merchants to the space is a particularly important point, because decentralized technologies has benefits that is tailored for them - a greater cut of the revenue, near instantaneous payments and the endless possibilities that come from smart contracts and other post-first generation features of Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs).
One company that is ardently focused on bringing cryptocurrencies to consumers and retailers in an accessible and intuitive manner is Crypto.com, which has released its own blockchain, a cryptocurrency visa card, and two tokens to go with it all. We examine the agenda of Crypto.com, the development of its blockchain and tokens, and how it plans to disrupt the retail industry with its solutions.
The History of Crypto.coms’s MCO and CRO
Crypto.com was founded in 2016 by Kris Marszalek, its Chief Executive Officer, Rafael Melo, its Chief Financial Officer, Gary Or, its Chief Technology Officer; and Bobby Bao, its Head of Corporate Development. Originally called Monaco Technologies, the company rebranded to Crypto.com in 2018. Crypto.com’s stated mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to cryptocurrency.
There are several products and services that the team has released, most notably the Crypto.com Pay app, which involves the use of a Visa crypto card, and the Crypto.com Chain, which features two tokens, MCO and CRO. These features are all closely tied to each other. We explain this in detail a little later.
The company offers some of its services in the United States as well, via the Metropolitan Commercial Bank. It has also been approved to operate in Europe, letting users spend currencies via the card by exchanging it for fiat currencies.
The team conducted an ICO for the project from May to June in 2017, raising roughly $27 million. The Visa card, which makes use of the MCO token, first launched in Singapore in October 2018. As is the case with credit and debit cards, the company has five different cards available for potential users, and these cards come with various benefits, including access to airport lounges, no fee withdrawal limits for cards, among other benefits. Each card comes with varying levels of MCO stake, with the least valued card being free, and the highest valued card requiring 50,000 MCO tokens.
In 2017, the company also released a mobile app on both the Google Play and Apple Stores, which lets users order the cards. This was followed by a wallet app in 2018 that allowed users to purchase MCO, Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC), Binance Coin (BNB) and USDM. 2019 saw the launch of the company’s Vortex Trading Engine, which sources liquidity from major exchanges to find the best execution price with no fees and markups, a useful solution for the agenda of the project.
Two more significant developments that occurred in 2018 was the launch of the Crypto.com Chain, a native blockchain solution, and the CRO token, which is the native asset of the blockchain that provides several benefits. Both of these are discussed at length below.
The Several Products and Services of Crypto.com, and its MCO and CRO Tokens
The primary focus of the Crypto.com platform is to offer a globally accepted payment card that lets users and merchants deal with crypto on traditional payments networks. By overcoming the technical obstacles of using crypto on these networks - speed and cost related - Crypto.com hopes to make the network more accessible to the larger population.
The Visa card allows users to buy, spend and exchange cryptocurrencies, and is tailored for use in real life scenarios. Specifically, the team describes four guiding principles that underpin their market strategy: financial incentive for customers to use the crypto cards; feeless transactions for merchants; an intuitive and accessible user experience; and a decentralized protocol that supports all of these features.
The high performing native blockchain, the Crypto.com Chain, and the two tokens, MCO and CRO, are the proposed answers to the aforementioned problems. The Crypto.com Pay app is a fundamental product upon which other solutions rely. The app allows for payments to be made via crypto, and merchants to use cryptocurrency based payments solutions on their platforms.
There are five major stakeholders on the network: customers, crypto customer acquirers (blockchain projects and exchanges), merchants, merchant acquirers and Crypto.com. Each of these have their own incentive mechanisms to encourage growth and activity of the network.
The development of the Crypto.com Chain has been divided into four phases. The first involves allowing merchants to integrated the Crypto.com Pay checkout option via an API that only uses a few lines of code. The second focuses on expanding the ecosystem so that more cryptocurrency projects get on board, giving the network’s stakeholders multiple options for payment. The third phase will bring the launch of the mainnet, as well on-chain settlement. The last phase will see gradual decentralization, as independent parties replace Crypto.com as a settlement agent. The latter will move into a “protocol code contributor and maintainer role.”
The MCO token is connected with several services on the platform, such as on the Credit service, which includes discounts and credit rewards; access to cards of different tiers; staking rewards on the app that include airdrops of various tokens; credit rewards if used. It has its own white paper, which goes into comprehensive about the token’s purpose.
The CRO token acts as a cross-asset intermediary currency settlement token on the Crypto.com blockchain and is used to settle transaction fees. Network nodes are rewarded in CRO tokens for their efforts and customers that pay directly with the CRO are granted with lower fees.
Crypto.com has also launched a credit platform, like the lending platform NEXO, on both Google Play and the App Store. The service allows users to deposit crypto and get an instant loan in return. This does not require credit checks and does not impose a repayment deadline. However, this is not yet available in the United States.
The project’s white paper goes into much greater as to how the token economy works, as well as providing some insight into the roles of the stakeholders.
Partnerships: Crypto.com is Intent on Building a Large Ecosystem
Such an initiative as that of Crypto.com would require a lot of collaboration in order to effectively reach its goals. The startup will want to broaden its reach as much as possible; the more players join its ecosystem, the greater the liquidity and the more exponential will be its reach.
Crypto.com has done precisely that, the majority of its partnerships having to do with exchanges, payment solutions, payments providers and settlement agents. There is also a strong focus on working with certain projects to have their tokens available on the Crypto.com platform, particularly stablecoins.
Notable partners include OS Limited, an Asia-based settlement agent that offers OTC trading; Ledger, the company behind the Ledger hardware vaults; and several exchanges, including Huobi, OKEx, CoinHako. The MCO token has been listed on over 20 exchanges. It also also available to more than 500,000 merchants via integration with WooCommerce.
Crypto.com is a member of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA).
Potential Challenges and Competitors
Crypto.com is in a slightly strange place when it comes to potential obstacles and competition.
Simply put, nothing is stopping merchants from adopting crypto solutions already - all they need is a wallet and a QR code set up at the Point-of-Sale. Similarly, customers don't have to go too far out of their way to find a reasonably easy to use crypto wallet that can store multiple tokens. It could be argued that a large portion of the masses still lacks the technical understanding required to operate a crypto wallet safely, but generally speaking, this is becoming easier with every passing day.
In other words, the strongest factor that will drive Crypto.com’s growth is its card - which, to its credit, making using and exchanging for crypto for the masses an approachable prospect. However, this too has its set of competitors, as there are several startups, with their own Visa crypto cards, that perform the very same functions as Crypto.com does.
So the long term potential of Crypto.com can be subject to a lot of questioning - why would one user or merchant choose Crypto.com’s services over a competitor? It could be argued that the MCO token, and Crypto.com generally, are among the best of such solutions out there, but we then have to consider the problem of the startup’s market hold being gobbled up by just general crypto projects just growing to become widely accepted by merchants (and as users find themselves understanding the tech more.)
How will it fare in the long run? That’s an important question that people will have to properly deliberate - if they’re looking the MCO token as an investment. This is not all that the company is going for, it would appear. Crypto.com is executing something that is very much needed for the crypto space i.e. it is making crypto more accessible and a viable solution for merchants, who have, for the most part, shied away from using crypto (mostly because of the volatility).
It would perhaps be better to see the Crypto.com platform as a typical financial company that is pioneering decentralized payments solutions. There is most definitely competition from other such players, but there is room for multiple entities in this niche, especially if Crypto.com can cement itself in some markets, and draw in a lot of players in its ecosystem, then it stands a good chance at becoming the bridge between fiat and crypto infrastructures.