Hygge Companies view their employees as responsible adults who can manage not only their work, but also their money. Recent advancements in financial technology brought alternatives to the traditional consumer banking landscape. One way to visualize the key elements of this landscape is imagining a map of interconnected islands where legacy cash-based world borders gen Z contactless payment communities. Although much more complex in reality, this map gives general overview of basic services you can use to receive, store, and spend money anywhere in the world.
Store of value
First thing that you need to figure out is what you and people around you see value in. Is it gold bullions? Fiat? Stocks? Bitcoin? All of the above? Contrary to the common wisdom, many islands offer all those options beyond their native currency. There’s nothing wrong with diversifying and moving things around as long as you have a plan. Some things are more liquid, others are more expensive to store. There are different security risks associated with each option, not to mention simple volatility and inflation. Taking shortcuts and relying on what others say and do works short-term, but leads to inevitable disasters. One way to make informed decision is to learn more about the history of money. A good place to start is Nick Szabo’s 20-minute presentation on the history of money.
This island is known for its high fences and numerous cops placed along its slow and winding roads. Old local banks are getting overrun by online banks, such as Wise and Revolut. These next-gen banks have been able to offer borderless banking that includes ACH and SEPA transfers, the go-to interbanking road networks in the U.S. and Europe. Most of their services, however, are still tied to specific countries. They still maintain a strict dress code to make sure you really belong there.
Newly inhabited, this island offers strong store of value assurances in the form of cold wallets. Although finding and seizing your assets is extremely hard, beware of snake oil sellers and get rich quick schemes. Poorly explored, sometimes not user-friendly, and requires good IT security hygiene. Offers little in terms of emergency services - if you make a mistake, you are on your own.
This type of wallets is usually considered a cold wallet and is primarily used to store money rather than to spend it on the daily basis. The main advantage of the noncustodial wallet is the ability to retain control of your encryption keys, making it virtually impossible for anyone else to access your assets. This control comes with its challenges, so make sure to securely save 12 or so recovery words given to you when you set up your wallet. They are your account number and the password. Anyone who has them, can restore the wallet on another device and has full control of the assets in the wallet.
Avoid hardware and paper wallets - those are usually hard to secure and often attract unwanted attention. An old smartphone, reset to factory settings and used exclusively for crypto wallet apps, is a much safer option. Nothing is free, so don’t forget about developer monetization schemes when choosing a wallet app. Crypto payment processors like BitPay get paid by merchants for creating stable payment rails. They try to stay away from blockchain protocol politics and showing your margin trading ads. This nicely aligns their incentives with cold wallet users, who get to benefit from their free and stable apps.
If you start keeping your life savings in a crypto wallet, it’s a good idea to think about some sort of dead man switch (think Google’s Inactive Account Manager) to make sure your loved ones can access the funds if something were to happen to you.
Although direct bridges exist, most journeys between islands require a stop at the exchange island, even if completely unnoticed by the travelers. Most notable examples include:
- Localbitcoins - P2P exchange allowing individuals to exchange any currency anywhere in the world by converting it through bitcoin. Extremely resilient to capital controls, sanctions, and the lack of financial infrastructure. Coupled with a VPN, Localbitcoins is virtually unstoppable, providing exchange services even in places like Venezuela and Iran.
- Bitstamp - probably the oldest fully-licensed crypto exchange for the western part of the world that acts as an on- and off-ramp between fiat and a handful of the most stable cryptocurrencies.
- Binance - high liquidity crypto casino with blackjack and margin trading. You can find any imaginable altcoin there.
Payment Processors and Merchants
Merchants interact with the rest of the world through payment processors. Most use multiple processors to attract more clients and make spending money easier. The biggest ones even have their own currency, either pegged to fiat through gift cards, or to nothing at all in case of loyalty points, such as airline miles.
A dying breed, ATMs allow you to convert your fiat and crypto into cash. The problem with them is high operational costs, ever-growing cash circulation restrictions, and increasing convenience of cashless transactions.
Having taken over traditional financial system by issuing physical cards, Visa, Mastercard, and their competitors remain relevant by offering contactless payments, Google and Apple Pay integration, as well as connections to the crypto world through 3rd parties.
Native crypto processors
Collecting payments through cryptocurrency is as easy as integrating any other payment option. Small hipster coffee shops and big companies like Microsoft, Expedia, Starbucks, Newegg, and others already accept cryptocurrencies natively for their goods and services. For the most part, they rely on crypto processors whose job is to assume the blockchain protocol risks, to reduce transaction wait times, and to operate more complex layer 2 payment networks.
Big companies created illiquid pools of their own monopoly money hoping to keep customers on a short leash. This is where gift card marketplaces come in, giving a nice discount to anyone who is ready to pay for them in more liquid currency. Services like Purse.io took it one step further, fully automating the process of paying Amazon for goods in crypto. Create a wish list, post it on Purse.io, and someone will make the purchase for you. You don’t even need to set up an Amazon account for that.
There are no isolated or uninhibited islands. Although some islands might be covered in fog and seem inaccessible, chances are someone has built a bridge that you are not aware of. Similarly, just because some islands like installing gates, doesn’t mean you can’t access their services. To make your journey smooth, make sure you look like a local.
A passport, a residency permit, or a driver’s license usually do the job. You’ll often get asked for multiple forms of identification.
Proof of residency
There’s usually no way to verify the authenticity of a bank statement or an electricity bill. Be creative.
Make sure you have a local phone number. Although it’s possible to get a virtual phone number through services like Google Voice, some services block those phone number ranges. Using a local SIM card is a more reliable way forward.
Local IP address
Most of the commercial VPN IP addresses are known to reputation-based security systems and will get your accounts suspended. Reach out to your admins and ask them to set you up with a dedicated WireGuard tunnel that exits in a residential IP range.
App Store Region
Don’t forget to switch your phone to the correct region.