While cryptocurrency may once have seemed like a futuristic and not-so-realistic idea, it’s become a legitimate investment and an increasingly significant area of interest for consumers and the companies they interact with. The financial services industry, in particular, has felt recent pressure to integrate cryptocurrency into its operations.
Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael and eToro Co-Founder and CEO Yoni Assia understand the challenges and opportunities of this evolution well. Bakkt is a leading technology platform that enables consumers, businesses, and institutions to unlock the value of digital assets including cryptocurrency. eToro is the world’s leading social investing platform that aims to revolutionize the way people invest and enhance investors’ financial education in products such as crypto, equities, commodities and currencies.
In the kickoff of ICR’s Digital Asset Series, Michael and Assia provided their insights on the impact of cryptocurrency on financial services, customer loyalty, and consumer behavior, and how companies must evolve to serve users’ changing needs.
It’s clear that the digital asset market is a high-growth space, so it follows that innovative, customer-focused companies will lead the charge, while traditional players will likely fall behind. Collaboration is key, according to Assia — when crypto companies work together, they can produce better results for the entire community and market.
The digital asset transition is propelling the digitization of the financial services industry in particular. “Everything is becoming digital,” says Assia. “The new generation is crypto-savvy, has a global mindset, and supports the democratization of finance.” With a growing interest in cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), this asset class is consistently growing.
One of the most significant changes in the cryptocurrency market is the shift from using a specialized account to house and manage cryptocurrency to trading it like any other asset, directly from a bank account. Customers increasingly want to be able to buy and sell crypto just like they would cash, using tools like a checking account and crypto-powered debit cards.
“Banks must now adapt to survive,” says Assia. “Large institutions understand this and are working to keep up with innovation in the space.”
Increasing adoption of cryptocurrency isn’t coming solely through industry giants like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Smaller currencies such as Dogecoin and Shiba Inu broadened adoption — the latter of which rose 777% in the span of 30 days in late 2021.
NFTs are also driving increased adoption of cryptocurrency. Well-known consumer brands, such as Nike and Puma, as well as artists, bands, DJs, and music festivals have come into crypto through NFTs by building communities and reward programs.
“What we’ve always seen is that accelerated adoption doesn’t come from the most obvious places, but from sources that will always surprise you,” says Assia.
Merchants are under increasing pressure to capture consumer spend and growth, which is prompting a massive transformation in brand value and loyalty. Companies like Bakkt are fueling that transformation by empowering companies to rethink the way they reward customer loyalty. Bakkt users can leverage the platform to empower their customers to earn crypto rewards and redeem rewards through crypto.
“We’re doing this to enable them to further integrate their brands into their consumers’ day-to-day lives,” says Michael, going on to explain that this type of loyalty program appeals to this growing, digitally savvy consumer segment.
The future of financial services promises a smoother ability to move money globally, improved customer experience, and new business models. While the space may see increased competition, that can translate to big wins for consumers and innovative, customer-focused institutions.
To hear the full discussion with Michael and Assia, listen to the Digital Asset Series kickoff event.