London, UNITED KINGDOM – It’s a snowing day in May when the ex-CEO of one of the world’s most centralized payment processing gateways joins a cryptocurrency payment gateway whose entire premise is decentralization. So get ready your snow shovel as Business Insider recently revealed that Marc O’Brien, the former CEO of VISA for the United Kingdom and Ireland from 2008 to 2014 joined Crypterium as CEO. The well-funded startup that raised US$52 million last year through an initial coin offering (ICO) was founded for the purpose of making cryptocurrency payments in everyday situations a reality. O’Brien told Business Insider,
“The idea is that cryptocurrency is actually quite difficult today to use as an everyday method of payment. If you were to go to an exchange with your Bitcoin or your Ether it would probably take you 3 to 7 days to get that money paid out into a normal bank account.”
“What Crypterium will do is make that whole process seamless and give an opportunity for a consumer to actually use their cryptocurrency to pay for everyday items.”
Hired through executive recruiter Sheffield Haworth, Crypterium may be banking on O’Brien’s network to partner with either Visa or Mastercard to launch cryptocurrency cards.
According to O’Brien,
“That card will be attached to a wallet that we’ve created and every time the consumer makes a transaction we will receive a request for that transaction in our systems, we will check the bitcoin or ether account and provided that they’ve got sufficient balance we will execute a trade and mark their bitcoin balance for a trade and approve the transaction. You can be in a store and all of that’s done in a fraction of a second.”
Given the volatility of cryptocurrencies, O’Briien claims that Crypterium will be able to do this without being exposed using a process the company has dubbed is “carefully protected.”
Crypterium currently has a team of thirteen, with three in London, ten in Moscow and is considering offices in New York, Singapore and Miami, all of which are hubs of cryptocurrency and blockchain activity. But not all payment gateways are looking to serve micro transactions of the sort that Crypterium is targeting. In Singapore for instance, cryptocurrency payment gateway Aditus has taken a different approach, targeting high-value, high-end transactions in the luxury space where the margins are larger. According to Aditus co-foudner and CEO Julian Peh,
“Given the current state of infrastructure, we are someways away from using cryptocurrencies for everyday transactions. Huge opportunities however abound in the luxury space, where newly-minted crypto-affluents are looking to spend their substantial digital stashes.”
Aditus has already forged major global partnerships from yacht makers to art galleries and even with Lamborghini’s Singapore dealership.
Nonetheless, O’Brien is of the view that cryptocurrencies provide a viable alternative for everyday use in high-inflation markets such as Argentina and Turkey, adding,
“We have a unique opportunity to provide a safe haven to some extent for consumers in those countries.”
“The concern that many of them might have about getting access to that currency in a short space of time for immediate spending, we’re going to be in a position to bridge that gap and make it an instant gratification.”
Crypterium has so far taken the first tentative steps to launch in other jurisdictions. According to O’Brien,
“We are now looking at how we organize to be a global operating business and that means we are taking top-level legal advice on how to structure ourselves so that we can actually launch in the US, launch in Latin America, launch in Singapore, with the right and appropriate licenses in each of those jurisdictions.”
Singapore, which is a key destination for some of the world’s most innovative and promising blockchain and cryptocurrency companies has extremely pro-innovation regulation and enjoys a strong adherence to the rule of law. That having been said, Singapore lawmakers will soon be bringing into law rules governing payment processors for which Crypterium will likely fall under. O’Brien said Crypterium is in discussions with potential partners at the moment and hopes to launch its first products by the autumn.