New York’s so-called “Blockchain Week” has kicked off, and the crypto industry has been absolutely inundated with news, press releases, and developments set to revolutionize the industry.One item that stood out on Monday was the news that Flexa, a cryptocurrency-centric payments startup, had partnered with Bitcoin exchange giant Gemini to allow users to spend digital assets in an array of brick and mortar stores.
SPEDN: The Latest Way To Spend Crypto IRL
Announced Monday in a Medium post, Flexa, a little-known startup looking to make “cryptocurrency spendable everywhere”, will be making Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Gemini’s in-house stablecoin available to spend in 30,476 retail outlets.
Chains accepted the aforementioned digital assets include Crate & Barrel, GameStop, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, and arguably most importantly, the Amazon-owned Whole Foods. It has been reported that the aforementioned chains have agreed to participate in the Flexa ecosystem, implying partnerships.
To accomplish this, Flexa has launched an app it calls “SPEDN” (a play on Bitcoin community not so inside joke “HODL”). This app, currently only available for Apple devices, allows users to deposit cryptocurrency into Gemini-run wallets, then use their phones in physical stores as a way to purchase goods as normal.
While the retailer receives fiat in the end, this move dramatically boosts the usability of cryptocurrency.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss by a coffee at Starbucks using a cryptocurrency they invented. But that's just the beginning of this story, with Nordstrom and Whole Foods accepting bitcoin, ether: https://t.co/ftcn7tNX1T by @DelRayMan via @Forbes #Consensus2019 #NYCBlockchainWeek pic.twitter.com/lyJlwNiCKp
— Forbes Crypto (@ForbesCrypto) May 13, 2019
There is one downside with this news: technically, the purchase of physical goods using cryptocurrencies is a taxable event (short-term capital gains) in the U.S., and should thus be reported to the IRS. However, there are groups, like CoinCenter, that are working to amend this issue, which would cement the idea that cryptocurrencies really are, in the end, a newfangled form of currency potentially set the revolutionize the world’s economy.
Other “Blockchain Week” News Events
Flexa’s surprising announcement wasn’t the only positive news event to grace New York’s Blockchain Week with its presence.
Bakkt, the crypto platform backed by the New York Stock Exchange’s owner, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), revealed Monday that it is finally in the latest stages of the testing of its Bitcoin futures contract.
Per previous Blockonomi reports, sources told Bloomberg that the exchange’s investment vehicle was being delayed as a result of a lack of proper custody solution. Yet, as this recent announcement confirms, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is warming up to Bakkt. Bakkt intends to launch its futures contract in July, but this date is dependent on some factors.
There has also been news that eBay, the world’s online marketplace, is going to potentially join the crypto fray. Over the weekend, as Consensus, crypto’s premier conference, was getting set up, those attending began to post images that implied that eBay sponsored the event.
While there is no official statement, there are rumors of eBay's integration with crypto payment gateway UTRUST. pic.twitter.com/wWFFRrXtC0
— Indian CryptoGirl ⚡ (@DesiCryptoHodlr) May 13, 2019
The company’s logo was splattered across window panes, coupled with the words “digital currency, it’s happening”. Many saw this as a hint that the Silicon Valley giant may make a crypto-related announcement this week, bolstering adoption the world over.
And on the trading side of the industry, the CME’s Bitcoin futures saw its biggest session ever, registering over $1 billion worth of nominal trading volume during Monday’s session. This, in the eyes of many, confirm that institutions are finally flooding into the space, and are looking to gain exposure to cryptocurrency and blockchain in preparation of the next rally.
CME Bitcoin futures reached an all-time record high of 33.7K contracts on May 13 (168K equivalent bitcoin), up nearly 50% from the last record of 22.5K contracts on April 4. See how market participants are using $BTC to manage uncertainty: https://t.co/hDgraMj5pe pic.twitter.com/ct1xkjoJDF
— CMEGroup (@CMEGroup) May 13, 2019