Using A Credit Card Could Soon Cost You More As Retailers Allowed To Pass On Swipe Fees To Customers

Christy McMullen, vice-president of Summerhill Market, estimates her family-run business spends about $1 million per year on fees to process credit card transactions. It’s a big cost in the grocery business, which already operates on razor-thin profit margins, but as of next Thursday, the chain of four upscale Toronto grocery stores could choose to pass the “swipe” fees along to customers as a surcharge.

That’s an option McMullen said she cannot take.“It’s not something that you can pass on to your customers. They would go somewhere else,” she said. “It would be another reason for them to go to the big chain rather than the independent.”

As part of a settlement this year of a class-action lawsuit over what are known as interchange fees, Visa and Mastercard agreed to let Canadian merchants apply an extra fee at checkout for the use of credit cards under either of their brands. That change goes into effect next week.

But some small business owners and advocates for retailers say this is not a workable solution to the problem they face when customers pay with plastic, specifically credit cards. (Retailers say the cost of offering debit as a payment option is much lower.)

“Telling retailers to charge customers? That’s not an answer. That’s not anything,” said Giancarlo Trimarchi, managing partner at Vince’s Market, an independent chain of four grocery stores near the GTA.

Instead, they want the federal government to live up to a promise it has made for years, starting with the 2019 election campaign, to reduce credit card transaction fees.

Ottawa has said it wants to ensure small businesses pay similar rates as large businesses (that in some cases have negotiated lower rates with the credit card companies). It held a consultation last year on lowering the average overall cost of such fees for merchants.The consultation wrapped up in December, but small business and retail lobby groups worry that momentum on the issue has died.

“The government has put this file on hold for many years despite repeated promises to small business owners that they’re going to do a further reduction in credit card processing fees,” said Dan Kelly, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “This file seems to be very much at the bottom of the government’s priority list at the moment.”

The two major credit-card companies, Visa and Mastercard, set interchange fees — these vary depending on the type of credit card and can be significantly higher for premium cards associated with reward points programs — but the issuing banks also get a portion of the fees paid by merchants.

In 2020, under a voluntary deal with the federal government, the credit card companies agreed to drop the cost of consumer credit card transaction processing fees to an average of 1.4 per cent (this came down from 1.5 per cent under a previous voluntary agreement).

But as credit card use for payment soared during the pandemic, when consumers spurned cash and purchased more online, retailers say that’s still a hefty price to pay.

As a rough estimate based on the total volume of credit card transactions in 2020 (about $570 billion, according to Payments Canada), merchants would have paid almost $8 billion in credit card processing fees.The retail lobby groups say those numbers were likely even higher in 2021 as the economy recovered after the first year of the pandemic and consumers resumed travelling, dining out and other spending.

“We’ve continued to push for further reductions (in the interchange rate) particularly because we saw such a massive migration away from cash as a result of the pandemic,” said Gary Sands, senior vice-president at the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers.

“The volume of payments (with credit card) has increased so significantly that it’s just eroding the bottom line of many businesses.”The 2022 federal budget said consultations on the topic continue but the lobby groups say they have not heard anything further from Ottawa.

“The government is committed to lowering the cost of credit-card fees in a way that benefits small businesses and protects existing reward points for consumers,” Adrienne Vaupshas, a spokesperson for Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, said in an email.In the meantime, passing on a surcharge to customers will likely be a tough sell for many businesses as Canadians grapple with the effects of soaring inflation.

“We’ve never seen surcharging as the solution to this problem,” said Karl Littler, senior vice-president at the Retail Council of Canada.There have long been exceptions to the previous prohibition on surcharging. For example, some public institutions such as universities and utilities have been able to impose fees for credit card use.

Telecom provider Telus recently told customers it plans to charge a fee for payments made by credit cards and Littler said he could also see it working for smaller merchants who have ongoing and face-to-face relationships with customers, who might sympathize with the costs the businesses incur.

“But I don’t see it working at scale,” he said. “I don’t expect there will be broad adoption of surcharging by Canadian merchants.” Kelly said the CFIB does support retailers having the option but suspects uptake will be limited. He said a poll of 3,914 CFIB members conducted in early September indicated 19 per cent of respondents plan to use the new power.

A Visa spokesperson said the company is not in favour of surcharges, stating in an email, “We believe that the simplest, most economically efficient and consumer-friendly approach is for merchants not to impose surcharges on consumers for using their cards.”

Emilija Businskas, vice-president, communications for Mastercard in Canada, said the option to charge customers a surcharge will give merchants flexibility. On the broader issue of interchange fees, Mastercard “remains committed to building a strong, innovative payments system in Canada,” she said. “This includes our voluntary agreement with government which brings a thoughtful approach to the cost of acceptance for all.”

Mathieu Labrèche, a spokesperson for the Canadian Bankers Association, declined to comment for this story.

Christy McMullen, vice-president of Summerhill Market, estimates her family-run business spends about $1 million per year on fees to process credit card transactions.

It’s a big cost in the grocery business, which already operates on razor-thin profit margins, but as of next Thursday, the chain of four upscale Toronto grocery stores could choose to pass the “swipe” fees along to customers as a surcharge.

Source: Using a credit card could soon cost you more as retailers allowed to pass on ‘swipe’ fees to customers | The Star

Critics by Erin Hurd, Lindsay Konsko

Does swiping your plastic (or metal) credit card sometimes seem more like you’re spending funny money than actual currency? It’s a normal feeling. And research confirms that people do in fact spend more money — often, substantially more money — when they make purchases on a credit card instead of using cash.

It makes sense. Cash is a tangible piece of paper with value attached to it. When you spend it, you have less of it in your wallet. You see this and process it. But with the widespread adoption of credit cards, mobile wallets and peer-to-peer payment systems like Venmo, transactions are less transparent.

Will that make you spend more? Here’s what the studies say, and how you can make sure you’re in control of your spending.

The psychology of credit card spending

It’s easy to convince yourself, without even knowing it, that you’re not spending “real” money when you charge on your credit card. And technically, that’s correct.

“In fact, you’re not really spending money — you’re borrowing money,” writes author and certified public accountant Michele Cagan in her book, “Debt 101.” “You know that you’ll have to pay the bill eventually, but the promise of small minimum payments can make purchases seem like bargains.” Unless you pay back the purchase immediately, you won’t feel the pain of the bill for basically a month.

Multiple behavioral economics studies back this up, including a now-classic study by Drazen Prelec and Duncan Simester, professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in which randomly selected participants were offered the opportunity to buy highly desirable, sold-out tickets to a professional basketball game. Unless you pay back a credit card purchase immediately, you won’t feel the pain of the bill for basically a month.

Half the participants were told that they would have to pay cash for the tickets. The other half were told that they would be required to pay by credit card. Those who were told they would have to pay by credit card were willing to pay more than twice as much on average as those who were told that they would have to pay by cash. In other words, study participants were willing to pay a 100% premium for the opportunity to buy now and pay later.

Another often-cited study is one conducted by Dun & Bradstreet, in which the company found that people spend 12%-18% more when using credit cards instead of cash. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston recently found an even sharper disparity between cash and non-cash transactions. According to a 2016 report from the bank, the average value of a cash transaction was $22, compared with $112 for non-cash transactions — a 409% jump.

Older studies and real-world data points have also tended to support this general idea through the years:

  • One study from the Journal of Applied Psychology found that diners tipped an average of about 4.3% more just by seeing a credit card logo on the tray that holds their restaurant bill.

  • McDonald’s once reported that its average ticket was $7 when people used credit cards versus $4.50 for cash.

  • A published paper from MIT economist Amy Finkelstein found that U.S. states with highway tolls would tend to increase that toll once they’d installed an automatic collection system, such as EZ-Pass. The study suggests that states realized they could charge more because consumers don’t “feel” the electronic transaction in the same way they would by parting with “real money.”

If you’ve ever shopped at Amazon at 2 a.m, you probably know this all too well. Since studies have shown that consumers are willing to spend more when they charge their purchases, it makes sense that credit cards are ripe for impulse purchases….To be continued..

Related contents:

13% of Credit Card Holders Could Lose Money for This Reason The Motley Fool

A quick guide to maximise your credit card benefits this Diwali The Economic Times

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Oil Prices Plummet As Dollar Soars And Global Recession Fears Grow

Crude oil prices hit their lowest levels since January on Monday. Getty Images

Oil prices continued to plummet on Monday, plunging to their lowest levels since January and continuing weeks of decline as fears of a looming global recession mount, inflation rates remain historically high and the strong performance of the U.S. dollar dampens demand.

The price of international benchmark Brent crude slipped below $85 a barrel for the first time since January on Monday morning. Brent futures for November slipped more than 1.5% to around $84.51 during early trading, recovering $85.34 at 9.44 a.m. London time.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the U.S. benchmark, dropped as low as $77.22 a barrel early Monday morning—its lowest level since early January—though it recovered and was trading at $78.57 4:52 a.m. Eastern time. The drop continues weeks of straight declines in oil prices, which caused both benchmarks to fall to their lowest levels since January last Friday.

Widespread fears of a recession and the strong performance of the U.S. dollar have dampened global demand for oil. The Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. dollar’s value against six other major currencies, hit a 20-year high on Wednesday and buyers using other currencies will have to spend more to buy the same dollar amount of crude oil.

Multiple factors have contributed to declining oil prices. As well as the dollar’s strong performance, soaring inflation rates and fears of a global economic downturn have dampened demand. Ongoing strict Covid curbs in China, the world’s largest energy consumer, has also pushed demand down. The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which caused energy prices to skyrocket, has served to buffer oil prices against recession fears, though these fears now appear to be the key force driving the market.

I am a senior reporter for the Forbes breaking news team, covering health and science from the London office.

Source: Oil Prices Plummet As Dollar Soars And Global Recession Fears Grow

Critics by

Oil prices plunged about 5% to an eight-month low on Friday as the U.S. dollar hit its strongest level in more than two decades and on fears rising interest rates will tip major economies into recession, cutting demand for oil.

Brent futures fell $4.31, or 4.8%, to settle at $86.15 a barrel, down about 6% for the week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell $4.75, or 5.7%, to settle at $78.74, down about 7% for the week.

It was the fourth straight week of declines for both benchmarks, the first time this has happened since December. Both were in technically oversold territory, with WTI on track for its lowest settlement since Jan. 10 and Brent for its lowest since Jan. 14. U.S. gasoline and diesel futures were also down more than 5%.

The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a hefty 75 basis points on Wednesday. Central banks around the world followed suit with their own hikes, raising the risk of economic slowdowns.

“Oil tanks as global growth concerns hit panic mode given a chorus of central bank commitments to fight inflation. It seems central banks are poised to remain aggressive with rate hikes and that will weaken both economic activity and the short-term crude demand outlook,” aid Edward Moya, senior market analyst at data and analytics firm OANDA.

The U.S. dollar was on track for its highest close against a basket of other currencies since May 2002. A strong dollar reduces demand for oil by making the fuel more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

“We had the dollar exploding higher and pushing down dollar-denominated commodities like oil and growing fears over the looming global recession that is coming as the central banks raise interest rates,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.

The euro zone’s downturn in business activity deepened in September, a survey showed, suggesting a recession looms as consumers rein in spending and as governments urge energy conservation following Russia’s moves to cut off European supply.

Wall Street’s main indexes slid more than 2% on Friday as investors feared the U.S. Federal Reserve’s hawkish policy actions to quell inflation could trigger a recession and dent corporate earnings.The dollar <.DXY> index reached its highest in over two decades, pressuring oil prices. Russia launched referendums aimed at annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine, raising stakes of the war in what Kyiv called a sham.

On the supply side, efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have stalled as Tehran insists on closure of the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s investigations, a senior U.S. State Department official said, easing expectations of a resurgence of Iranian crude oil exports

Related News:

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MarketsSantos agrees to sell 5% stake in PNG LNG to state-owned Kumul – report, article with imageMarketsEastward gas flows via Yamal-Europe pipeline resume on Sunday, article with image

WorldAbout 746,000 still without power in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona, article with imageOil Plunges To Lowest Level Since January—Here’s Why Experts Say Low Prices Won’t Last (Forbes)

Denmark warns on danger of spills from tankers carrying Russian oil (FT)Dollar Hits 20-Year High After Putin Mobilizes Troops And Threatens Nuclear War (Forbes)Oil Price Fundamental Daily Forecast – Crushed by Strong Dollar, Recession Concerns FX Empire

19:32 Fri, 23 SepGlencore ordered to pay almost $500m in oil price manipulation case Financial Mail19:05 Fri, 23 Sep
18:02 Fri, 23 Sep
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10:53 Fri, 23 Sep
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17:32 Thu, 22 SepMalcy’s Blog – Oil price, JOG, Longboat, Getech. And finally… Proactive Investors (UK)16:55 Thu, 22 Sep
13:56 Thu, 22 Sep

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How Lotteries Work: Structure, Drawings, Odds, Payouts

In the US, most states offer some type of cash lottery like Mega Millions or Powerball. When you play, you purchase a ticket in hopes of winning a cash payout at random.

Although the odds of winning a cash lottery are very low, Americans still spend billions of dollars each year on tickets. But not everyone considers the tax implications or what they would do with their earnings if they did win.

How do lotteries work?

When you play the lottery, you’ll spend a small sum of money to get the chance to win a huge prize. The winners are selected at random. If you pick all the winning numbers, you’ll win the jackpot, or share it with others who have all the correct numbers as well. Most lotteries also include smaller prizes for getting some combination of winning numbers, but not all of them.

Related: If you really like to play lottery free in your phone try GIVVY Numbers..Its really fun and money making

According to Professor Michael Collins, a chartered financial analyst and CEO of WinCap Financial, most cash lotteries are administered by the government. “Government-administered lotteries are usually run by state governments in order to raise revenue,” he explains.

The proceeds of lottery funds can go to fund education, provide treatment for gambling addictions, or to protect the environment. However, lottery proceeds account for a small source of any state’s revenue.

Note: The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL) outlines the beneficiaries of different types of lotteries and how much money was transferred in total.

How do lottery drawings work?

“Consumers purchase lottery tickets, and the money they spend goes into the winning pot,” says Joel Ohman, a CFP® professional and CEO of ExpertInsuranceReviews.com. The longer a lottery goes without a winner, the more money accumulates in the pool. When someone wins, the lottery pool starts over again.

Lottery winners are chosen at random via a drawing. For instance, the Mega Millions drawings happen on Tuesday and Fridays at 11 PM EST, and you can watch them on live TV.

During the living drawing, five white balls are selected at random, and the balls are numbered one through 70. Then one gold ball is chosen from a set of balls numbered one through 25. If the six numbers selected match your lottery ticket number, you’re the big winner.

Related: If you really like to play lottery free in your phone try GIVVY Numbers..Its really fun and money making

What are the odds of winning the lottery?

The odds of winning a lottery jackpot are very low, even if you buy tickets on a regular basis. And there’s a lot of variation in the odds depending on the type of lottery you purchase tickets for.

In general, the bigger the lottery, the lower your odds of winning. In the Powerball lottery, for example, players select five numbers from 1 to 69, and then choose one number from 1 to 26 for the Powerball. To win the jackpot, you have to get all six numbers. With so many possible combinations, the odds of winning come out to 1 in 292,201,338.

How do lottery payouts work?

There are two ways lottery winners can claim their earnings — as a lump sum or annual payments over time. Both options result in a lottery payout, but there are pros and cons to each.

You’ll receive your after-tax winnings immediately if you claim a lump sum payout. Choosing this option lets you start investing and taking advantage of compound interest immediately. 

But if you receive payments over time, commonly referred to as a lottery annuity, the total amount you receive will be closer to the advertised winnings. And annuity payments can protect winners who might be tempted to spend the money all at once.

Related: If you really like to play lottery free in your phone try GIVVY Numbers..Its really fun and money making

Lotteries and taxes

According to Collins, the tax implications of winning the lottery vary depending on the type of lottery and the jurisdiction in which it’s located.

“For example, in the United States, winnings from government-administered lotteries are subject to federal and state income taxes,” he says.

“Lottery earnings are considered wages by state and federal governments,” Ohman notes.  Winning a significant amount of money will probably push you into a higher tax bracket, “so not only will you pay higher taxes on your winnings, but you’ll also pay higher taxes on your regular wages,” he says. “The state tax will depend on where you live.”

By:

Source: How Lotteries Work: Structure, Drawings, Odds, Payouts

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Meta’s Latest Privacy Scandal Includes Hospitals Sending Patient Data

You can’t see them, but Meta’s trackers are embedded in millions of websites all over the internet, collecting data about where you go and what you do and sending it back to Meta. A recent investigation shows that those trackers are on sites that even the most cynical among us might expect to be off-limits: those belonging to hospitals, including patient portals that are supposed to be protected by health privacy laws.

This week, the Markup, a nonprofit news outlet that covers technology’s harms, has been publishing the latest findings of its investigation into Meta’s Pixels, which are pieces of code developers can embed on websites to track their visitors. So far, those stories reveal how websites owned by the government, pregnancy counseling centers, and hospitals are sending data to Meta through Pixels, much of which would be considered sensitive to the users who unwittingly provided it.

It’s easy and understandable to blame Meta for this, given the company’s much-deserved, less-than-stellar reputation on user privacy. In Pixel and other trackers, Meta has played an instrumental role in building the privacy-free, data-leaking online world we must navigate today. The company supplies a tracking system designed to suck up user data from millions of sites and spin it into advertising gold, and it knows very well that there are many cases where the tool was implemented poorly at best and abused at worst.

But this may also be a rare case of a Meta-related privacy scandal that isn’t entirely Meta’s fault, partly because Meta has done its best to place that blame elsewhere. Or, as security researcher Zach Edwards put it: “Facebook wants to have their data cake and not eat the violations, too.” Businesses choose to put Meta’s trackers on their websites and apps, and they choose again which data about their visitors to send up to the social media giant.

There’s simply no good excuse, in this day and age, for developers that use Meta’s business tools not to understand how they work or what user data is being sent through them. At the very least, developers shouldn’t put them on health appointment scheduling pages or inside patient portals, which users have every reason to expect not to be secretly sending their data to nosy third parties because they’re often explicitly told by those sites that they aren’t. Meta created a monster, but those websites are feeding it.

How Pixel makes tracking too easy

Meta makes Pixel available, free of charge, to businesses to embed in their sites. Pixel collects and sends site visitor data to Meta, and Meta can match this to a user’s profile on Facebook or Instagram, giving it that much more insight into that user. (There are also cases where Meta collects data about people who don’t even have Meta accounts.) Some data, like a visitor’s IP address, is collected by Meta automatically. But developers can also set Pixel up to track what it calls “events”: various actions users take on the site.

That may include links they click on or responses in forms they fill out, and it helps businesses better understand users or focus on specific behaviors or actions. All this data can then be used to target ads at those people, or to create what’s known as “lookalike audiences.” This involves a business asking Meta to send ads to people who Meta believes are similar to its existing customers. The more data Meta gets from businesses through those trackers, the better it should be able to target ads.

Meta may also use that data to improve its own products and services. Businesses may use Pixel data for analytics to improve their products and services as well. Businesses (or the third-party vendors they contract to build out their sites or run advertising campaigns) have a lot of control over what data about their customers Meta gets. The Markup discovered that, on some of the sites in its report, hospital website appointment pages were sending Meta the name of someone making an appointment, the date and time of the appointment, and which doctor the patient is seeing.

If that’s happening, that’s because someone on the hospital’s end set Pixel up to do that. Either the hospital didn’t do its due diligence to protect that data or it didn’t consider it to be data worth protecting. Or perhaps it assumed that Meta’s tools would stop the company from collecting or using any sensitive data that was sent to it. In its most recent hospital investigation, the Markup found that a third of the hospitals it looked at from a list of the top 100 hospitals in the country had a Pixel on appointment scheduling pages, and seven health systems had Pixels in their patient portals. Several of the websites removed Pixel after being contacted by the Markup.

How can a hospital justify any of this? The only hospital that gave the Markup a detailed response, Houston Methodist, claimed that it didn’t believe it was sending protected health information to Meta. The Markup found that the hospital’s site told Meta when someone clicked “schedule appointment,” which doctor they scheduled the appointment for, and even that the doctor was found by searching “home abortion.”

But Houston Methodist said scheduling an appointment didn’t mean the appointment was ever confirmed, nor that the person who scheduled the appointment was the person that appointment was actually for. Houston Methodist might think it isn’t violating patient privacy, but its patients may well feel differently. But they’d also have no way of knowing this was happening in the first place without using special tools or having a certain level of technical knowledge. Houston Methodist has since removed the Pixel.

Another health system the Markup looked at, Novant Health, said in a statement that the Pixel was placed by a third-party vendor for a campaign to get more people to sign up for its patient portal system, and was only used to see how many people signed up. But the Markup found far more data than what was being sent to Meta, including medications that users listed and their sexual orientations. That third-party vendor appears to have made some mistakes here, but Novant’s the one that has a duty to its patients to keep their information private on websites that promise to do so. Not the third-party vendor, and not Meta.

This is not to let Meta off the hook. Again, it created the Pixel tracking system, and while it has rules and tools that are supposed to prevent certain types of sensitive information — like health conditions — from being sent to it, the Markup’s reports are evidence that those measures aren’t enough.

Meta told Recode in a statement that “our system is designed to filter out potentially sensitive data it detects.” But the Markup found those filters lacking when it came to data from at least one crisis pregnancy center’s website. Meta didn’t respond to Recode’s questions about what it does if it finds that a business is violating its rules. Edwards, the security researcher, was even less charitable about how much blame Meta should get here. “It’s 100 percent Facebook’s fault, in my opinion,” he said.

Meta also didn’t respond to questions from Recode asking what it does to ensure businesses are following its policies, or what it does with the sensitive information businesses aren’t supposed to send it. As it stands, it looks as though Meta is making and distributing a tracking tool that can materially benefit Meta. But if that tool is exploited or used incorrectly, someone else is responsible. The only people who pay the price for that, it seems, are the site visitors whose privacy is unknowingly invaded.

What you can do to avoid Pixel

There are a few things you can do to protect yourself here. Browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Brave offer tracker blockers. Todd Feathers, one of the reporters on the Markup’s hospital story, told Recode they used Chrome browsers with no privacy extensions for their tests. Speaking of privacy extensions, you can get those, too. VPNs and Apple’s paid private relay service can obscure your IP address from the sites you visit.

Finally, Meta has controls that limit tracking and ad targeting off of its platforms. The company claims that turning off “data about your activity from partners” or “off-Facebook activity” will stop it from using data collected by Pixel from being used to target ads to you. This means placing some trust in Meta that its privacy tools do what it claims they do.

And there’s always, of course, asking your lawmaker to push for privacy laws that would make some of these practices explicitly illegal, or forcing companies to inform and get user consent before collecting and sending their data to anyone else. A few new federal privacy bills or draft bills have been introduced as recently as this week. The interest is there among some members of Congress, but not in enough of them to come close to passing anything yet.

Source: Meta’s latest privacy scandal includes hospitals sending patient data – Vox

More contents:

Mozilla slams a big Safari privacy feature, calling it ‘a poor trade-off’

Didi makes privacy fixes to ousted apps in run-up to restoring them – SCMP

14:40 Wed, 15 JunFirefox Browsers Internet
20:19 Thu, 16 JunFacebook Meta Internet
16:39 Sat, 18 JunData Protection
14:07 Fri, 10 Jun

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Emerging Markets and The Future Of Blockchain

In the first ten years of the expansion of blockchain technology, it was utterly dominated by developed (or more precisely western) nations. But emerging markets like Africa are adopting crypto faster than their global counterparts. This growth is even more impressive when one considers that there has been very little institutional support for blockchain technology in these nations.

The growth in blockchain adoption has been concentrated in. Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania, which are some of the most densely populated nations on the continent, which have been banned from crypto trading. In the first ten years of the expansion of blockchain technology, it was utterly dominated by developed (or more precisely western) nations. Almost all the Bitcoin Miners were located in America and Europe, and only rising mining costs moved those operations abroad.

Asides from that, many of the earliest Bitcoin/blockchain innovators were either westerners or living in western countries. For example, Vitalik Buterin, while being Russian-born himself, had been in Canada for the better part of two decades before creating Ethereum. However, as blockchain technology is moving into the next phase of its development, it appears that emerging markets like Africa are adopting crypto faster than their global counterparts. While no one knows the reason for this, it’s very difficult to deny that it’s happening. The numbers are simply undeniable.

For example, cryptocurrency adoption grew in Africa by 1200% between the 12 months between July 2020 and June 2021. Regardless of whether this was brought on by the financial uncertainty of the pandemic or other clusters of reasons, the effect of this growth can hardly be ignored. This growth in blockchain adoption has been concentrated in countries Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania, which are some of the most densely populated nations on the continent. Peer-to-peer trading, which is a huge part of blockchain technology, is so big in Kenya that the country led the world in P2P transactions in 2022.

All this points to an exciting future for blockchain technology in these markets. This growth is even more impressive when one considers that there has been very little institutional support for blockchain technology in these nations. Many of the regulators in these countries have banned crypto trading, which has slowed down adoption. Despite that, the rate of adoption is still incredible. All this points to one thing; blockchain technology adoption might already have plateaued in the West, but this is just the beginning in emerging markets like Africa.

The Opportunities are Limitless

The blockchain ecosystem of emerging markets might not be as huge as that of developed nations, but it’s rather apparent that blockchain technology solves more structural problems in these markets than elsewhere. For example, in nations where inflation is rampant — like Zimbabwe — citizens can safeguard their wealth with stablecoins. Interestingly, I addressed the structural problems of P2E economies here and recommended the need for a dedicated stablecoin to fix these structural problems.

Blockchain technology also gives a level of autonomy to citizens in nations with oppressive and dictatorial governments. In countries where governments can unilaterally freeze bank accounts of dissidents, digital stores of value like cryptocurrency can be a real vehicle of social change.This is indeed already happening. In 2020, there was at least one case of a popular protest funded in part by Bitcoin. Bitcoin was rather useful for the protest because of the anonymity and decentralization built into the coin’s infrastructure on the blockchain.

Asides from the monetary use of blockchain, it also has administrative uses as well. By applying blockchain technology to supply chain management, countries can greatly improve asset recording, tracking, assigning, linking and sharing; developing nations can build resilient supply chains without using an overinflated bureaucracy. This can be especially useful for developing nations that are battling supply chain issues. Blockchain can be useful in the entertainment industry as well. It can be used to prevent privacy in the industry, protect digital content, and facilitate the distribution of digital collectibles.

There are opportunities in gaming too. While Play-to-Earn games with NFT characters have gotten a bad rep because of how expensive it is to purchase a character, companies like Rainmaker Games are solving this problem. Rainmaker Games, for example,  is one of the most exciting companies revolutionizing games for the future. Within just a few months, Rainmaker Games has found a way to vet the identity of players who are joining guilds, figure out a way players can play hundreds of P2E games for free, and also incorporate an NFT marketplace on all of that.

With startups like Rainmaker Games lowering the barrier of entry for P2E gamers from emerging markets, it’s only a matter of time before these players stand toe to toe with the rest of the world. Asides from the structural shakeup a startup like Rainmaker Games can cause with its technology; there’s also the matter of the financial freedom these P2E games can give to players from emerging markets.

The NFT Goldmine

Despite the opportunities on the blockchain, it’s obvious that the same enthusiasm for crypto in emerging markets has been missing. One reason that has been brought up is the unfriendly technical nature of NFTs. And that could be a good point. After all, the more technical using a technology is, the fewer people use it.

Perhaps that’s why players in Web3 are already working on the important infrastructure that will help builders scale technical barriers to entry and build products faster and cheaper in the ecosystem. Ankr is one of those stakeholders, and the company provides fast, reliable infrastructure at community first pricing. It isn’t just infrastructure either — the company does everything from helping enterprises integrate with Web3 to allowing DeFi users to stake their coins and earn higher yields.

Right now, NFTs have taken on a lot of different forms, but there’s one that remains elusive; representation from emerging markets.While developing nations seem quite capable of holding their own and accelerating their development when it comes to crypto, the markedly lukewarm attitude toward NFTs has continued unabated. We know that the reason isn’t because of lack of utility. NFTs have proven that they can solve the problem of monetization for content creators and solve the problem of piracy for artists.

This means that NFTs have a huge future in these emerging markets — even if adoption isn’t on the up and up as it is with crypto. The problem, it seems, is with the complexities of releasing a token and a much higher tech barrier to entry. Cryptocurrency has largely avoided these problems due to a friendlier technical environment. For example, there are centralized exchanges for crypto where people with limited technical knowledge can just open an account and buy their cryptocurrency.

While there is also something like that for NFTs — Opensea is a great example — it isn’t targeted at or built for content creators in emerging markets.Thankfully, some NFT companies are also already solving the problem of higher technical barriers to entry. Ayoken Labs, for example, is building an NFT platform where artists and content creators from these emerging markets can release their social tokens, and essentially monetize their content efficiently.

This platform not only monetizes content for creators but also rewards fans and users in general with its native token for use. In a way, it’s like a play-to-earn game but without the gaming aspect.It’s clear that there are limitless opportunities in the blockchain space in emerging markets. It’s almost inevitable that more startups will come into the space and create solutions that are tailor-made for these markets. It is now a matter of when — not if. Today, the developed world is the capital of blockchain innovation. But it might not be for long.

By Victor Fabusola

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