Video conferencing and social media aren’t the only things getting more attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. With people stuck at home, cryptocurrency is seeing renewed interest by some investors.
“I expected with the pandemic people would want to pull money back, especially if they are losing their jobs,” said Adam Traidman, CEO and Co-Founder of BRD, the cryptocurrencies digital wallet company, in a recent interview. “If you look at the downloads, it’s setting all-time highs every month this year.”
Since March BRD has added 678,000 users in the U.S. and is on track to hit 5 million on a global basis by the end of August. Prior to the pandemic, the 5 million user mark was an end of 2020 goal.
Traidman credits a lot of the surge in downloads to stay-at-home orders still in place in cities across the country and world. People have more time to research alternative asset classes, including cryptocurrency. It didn’t hurt that U.S. stocks were taking a beating in the early days of the pandemic. Panicked investors looking for alternatives set their sights on cryptocurrency. In March and April, trading volumes for bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, reached record highs on that interest.
Then there’s the need to send money cross borders. With stores shuttered, consumers are forced to find alternatives to get money in the hands of family overseas. Since the pandemic hit in March, shares of bitcoin, have been surging. That doesn’t mean the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies won’t remain volatile, but with the pandemic changing the way we do pretty much everything it could become more mainstream in a post COVID-19 world.
Samsung Electronics seems to think so. Last week it announced a deal with Gemini Trust, the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange and custodian. Gemini is powering Samsung’s blockchain wallet, enabling its U.S. and Canadian customers to buy, store, and sell digital tokens from the mobile app. By integrating with Gemini Trust, Samsung is removing some of the steps necessary when purchasing cryptocurrencies, making it easier to be adopted by the general public. A big knock on cryptocurrency has been the complexity in purchasing tokens.
JPMorgan JPM is also showing the cryptocurrency market some more love. Earlier this month it accepted Coinbase and Gemini Trust as banking customers. It’s the first time JPMorgan brought on cryptocurrency companies as customers. JPMorgan’s support is good news for the industry, given the bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon had been a critic of bitcoin in the past. He did eventually come around with the bank launching its own digital currency in February of 2019.
While bitcoin has failed to take off with the masses, that may change in a post COVID-19 world where people favor digital payments over physical currency. Contactless payments will undoubtedly grow in a world where social distancing is the norm. That bodes well for digital wallets, whether it’s housing payment information or cryptocurrencies. It’s a new reality the nation’s financial institutions’ are waking up to as well. Traidman at BRD said he’s been fielding calls from major financial institutions that are expressing a need for digital asset technology. “People want a wallet on their phone. They don’t care if it’s in dollars or crypto,” said the executive.