In the crypto world, one of the (surprisingly few) problems with being “set it and forget it” layman types is that we occasionally have no idea what people are talking about – especially when it comes to various new hotnesses in the wider marketplace.
The best example of that – right now, at least – is this: Flexa has finally added native Cardano support to its network.
But it gets even better: This is especially big news because it comes in the wake of BitPay snubbing Cardano last week.
There are only two problems we’re having digesting these developments:
- What is Flexa?
- What is BitPay?
At the risk of outing ourselves as hodlers more than users, we just haven’t been closely following the daily trends in the actual ADA payment ecosystem.
Naturally, we understand that crypto won’t truly take off until Cardano and Solana and other transaction-friendly platforms are actually integrated into the commercial market. That is, for crypto to really show its true value and meet its full potential, people need to start using it like cash.
So we checked up on the aforementioned, and it turns out they’re platforms allowing merchants to use legacy POS hardware to expand standard accepted payment options to cryptocurrencies. This lets consumers spend crypto at real-world locales just as they’d spend fiat money via credit or debit.
For its part, Flexa has over 40,000 partner locations in the United States, with major brands like Whole Foods, Lowe’s, Barnes & Noble, and GameStop on board. Meanwhile, BitPay can be used at Newegg, APMEX, Pacsun, and other retailers. These lists are small, but the partner pools are growing every day.
Unfortunately, as cool as this all is, it can be a very tough sell – especially right now when the ADA price is low and just starting to climb a bit after a prolonged lull.
Why, for example, would we use our ADA – ADA, mind you, that we’ve already delegated to Cardano stake pools and with which we’re already earning meaningful rewards – to buy something we can just as easily (or, to be honest, even more easily) buy with a credit card or debit card on legacy fiat networks?
After all, our Cardano has nowhere to go but up. We think.
See, if we go to a hardware store or a bar and buy a $10 screwdriver with 7.5 ADA today, that screwdriver might retroactively become a $30 purchase next month.
Yes, one can make the argument that $10 of fiat money could similarly become $30 next month if converted to Cardano now, thereby making the above scenario a theoretical wash. And that’s true. We’ve “lost” a lot of money not buying Cardano during dips, relying on the stack we’ve already built.
Hindsight, after all, is always 20/20.
But this is a very real problem, and it’s one that is guaranteed to loom large. Despite the Cardano Flexa integration – and regardless of whether or not BitPay ends up supporting ADA on its payment platform – the dynamic simply isn’t yet there to encourage mass adoption.
We’ll put it simply: Until all our money is in crypto from cradle to grave, using the stuff for convenient daily purchases is going to be a big ask. For most people, it’s not going to happen.
Don’t get us wrong. This Flexa ADA thing is a big deal. Crypto can’t grow like it should without these kinds of solutions.
But these kinds of solutions feel premature. They feel like we’ve skipped past the first third of the story and have been plunged into the middle of an epic with no frame of reference.
The reason we use our cash and cards – even as we’re unapologetic crypto enthusiasts – is because the infrastructure supports these things far more readily than it supports crypto. Flexa is seeking to take the place of (or exist as a crypto analog to) traditional consumer-to-merchant payment processors. That’s fair enough, but it’s far downriver from where the need truly lies.
Consider our example, which – per the principle of mediocrity – is probably applicable to a very broad cross section of the crypto community:
We get up. We go to work. We work. We get paid. Our money goes directly into our checking account. Our checking account is linked directly to our debit card. Our debit card is accepted everywhere.
The problem we have with crypto challenging this model is a very basic one, notwithstanding the potential for massive gains making us reticent to spend $500 million on a couple of Papa John’s pizzas: The old way is just more convenient. It won’t always be that way, but right now, it is.
Until there’s a way we can be paid in crypto and then have that crypto sent straight to a checking or savings account from which we can easily debit funds at the retail level, crypto can’t compete with fiat. Not on those terms, anyway.
Obviously, crypto is better than fiat money in almost every possible way. It has extreme growth potential instead of de facto long-term devaluation, it’s safer and more secure to use electronically, and it gives its users a sense of freedom that is – in many ways – very real.
Crypto is liberating.
But as long as there are so many extra steps involved just so we can use crypto like we already use “regular money,” solutions like Flexa and BitPay and countless others will continue to be niche platforms with no hope for mass adoption.
On the other hand, perhaps the real investment – in the short term – is found exclusively in that lack of mass adoption.
If you are truly of the mind to use your ADA – right here and right now – as a 1:1 daily replacement for USD or any other fiat currency, we salute you. Flexa and similar products are absolutely worth your attention.
Even if you’re simply curious about how such systems work – or how they could work in the future – these are worth a look. We’re checking them out ourselves.
But as for how much we’re going to actually use them?
That really remains to be seen.