Cryptocurrency users in the GCC will be able to convert digital assets into local currencies and withdraw them from ATMs, with the planned launch of a new payment platform in the region in March.
Singapore-based fintech start-up Texcent plans to roll out its Paycent payment platform in the UAE and elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf from March, following the scheme’s launch in Singapore and the Philippines last year, it said on Sunday.
“We are bringing the financial technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industries 4.0) to today’s customers – especially the millennials who deal in both the fiat and digital currencies – and need a platform to convert them instantly without the hassles of going to an exchange and finding a buyer,” said Nitin Gupta, chief operating officer of Paycent.
“The Paycent debit card that will be available to customers in March this year will solve these issues and make it easier for consumers using both currencies. We are issuing the card globally.”
Paycent works through a debit-style card that enables users to instantly convert digital assets into local currencies. The app to facilitate conversions has been available for download since January 15.
“It is a global mobile dual e-wallet that can be funded by digital currencies, for example, Paycentos, bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin or bitcoin cash, as well as high-liquidity and fiat currencies, within the same mobile application,” the company said.
“This allows digital currency holders multiple avenues of spend, and straddles the world of fiat and digital currencies.”
Paycent’s expansion comes as the e-payments industry stands on the cusp of rapid growth, particularly in emerging markets. A total of 726 billion transactions using digital payment technologies are expected to be made by 2020, according to research last year by lender BNP Paribas and consultancy Capgemini.
Emerging markets are expected to grow at a rate three times that of developed economies in terms of digital transaction volumes. The number of digital payments made in developing markets grew 21.6 per cent between 2014 and 2015, compared to a 6.8 per cent rise in mature markets, the research said.
Meanwhile, digital currencies enjoyed a bull-run to a peak of $707 billion market capitalisation in January – although one of the most established cryptocurrencies, bitcoin, fell by 15 per cent on Friday to a two-month low of $7,625 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange.
The slump brought the total market value of cryptocurrencies down to around $400bn, half the high the sector reached in January, according to industry tracker Coinmarketcap.com, and prompting warnings of a "bitcoin bubble" by analysts and investors.
Paycent aims to be the global leader in “complete” mobile and cashless transactions. It said it is in the process of issuing 20,000 debit cards globally to customers who want to remain ahead of the game and deal in both fiat currencies and digital currencies, while on the move.
The company is also building a remittance network that can be plugged into its mobile wallets so that customers can transfer funds in real time anywhere in the world.
“It’s a one-stop-shop for all financial needs of a consumer on the move,” Paycent added.