Gearing up for the future
Hello again, we are back with a few updates on how we are merging the digital and physical world with bitcoin.
- Our newest feature, Instant Exchange
- BitcoinVenezuela and OpenNode working to combat hyperinflation
- A stunning look for the future
There tends to be a learning curve with new technology, especially with something as abstract as bitcoin. As builders, it is our job to smooth that curve and reduce points of friction where possible. One of the main concerns businesses have when considering accepting bitcoin payments is the price volatility and settlement time between transactions.
“If I cannot retain a set amount of value for a reasonable time with the products I sell, how can I reliably run my business?”
Of course, this sentiment is not shared by everyone, and over time we hope more will consider the value of bitcoin over all else. For now, we hope to provide risk averse merchants a solution that allows them to participate in the bitcoin ecosystem without worry.
With our newest feature, Instant Exchange, we offer businesses the option to moderate their risk. They can choose to have their bitcoin automatically converted to their native currency at the time a transaction occurs, or they can do it manually within their dashboard at their convenience. When the business is ready to cash out, they can withdraw their funds to their bank account with ease.
This is possible with the help of our bank partner, Wyre. We are very happy to be working with a company that shares similar values in trying to provide global access to bitcoin at low rates. In time, we hope to bring these rates even lower and further reduce the barrier of entry into bitcoin.
We currently offer support for 6 different currencies (USD, EUR, GBP, BRL, MXN, AUD) across 25 countries, and plan to increase those numbers by the end of the year.
This feature is live with our beta users and we are excited to see their response. We hope this pushes more businesses into the crypto space who may have been on the fence before.
Take a look, as your bitcoin payment is automatically converted to $5.00.
Venezuela battling hyperinflation with bitcoin
If any country knows the risk and harm that can come with excessive price volatility, it is Venezuela. It is also the worst kind of volatility, as Venezuela has seen the bolivar decline in value by over 8577.08% since the start of 2018. This means if you had $100 USD in January, it would be worth $1.15 today.
Imagine this: You receive your wage, go to buy food, and have enough funds for all your groceries before getting in line. However, by the time it is your turn to pay, your funds can no longer cover the cost of your food. This is if there was any food left to buy in the first place, as trade is difficult and commerce is in bad shape.
This is not an exaggeration, it is the effect of extreme hyperinflation. The money stops working and does not hold value. The economy breaks, and valuing goods becomes difficult. Businesses do not know what to charge, and the exchange of goods becomes a struggle as people get upset and angry, having bought the same thing for 50% less the day prior.
Vendor prices along the same street will vary drastically during the day, even hourly. There is no possibility to save money long term. With the average minimum wage at already less than $0.52 USD per month, this has become a crisis of epic proportions.
Steps toward stability
This is where bitcoin comes in. Even though the bitcoin price can be volatile, it retains value much better than the bolivar. Now people are able to save a little extra. They can afford to wait days between receiving their wage and buying groceries, so their food is fresh. Their schedule is no longer dictated by the instant they receive funds in their bank.
This process is not ideal as it still revolves around converting bitcoin to bolivars through a LocalBitcoins seller who has the same bank as the vendor selling goods. Between different banks, the wire transfer can take over 1 business day, at which time the value will already be vastly different.
We need better solutions. Solutions that allow people to not only obtain bitcoin, but also use it as a means of exchange for all products and services. A solution that gives both customers and vendors the option to use bitcoin with ease, instead of having to facilitate same bank transactions with LocalBitcoins sellers.
BitcoinVenezuela and OpenNode
Over the past few months, we have been working closely with the humanitarian aid project, Bitcoin for Venezuela Initiative (BFVI), to deliver such a solution. We started by setting up a donation service, which has so far raised over $252.60 to help provide food, water, and hard-to-buy meats for Venezuelans in need.
Now we are taking the next step, as BFVI has developed ‘Pay me with Bitcoin,’ a mobile and desktop Point Of Sale interface that, when linked with OpenNode, will allow for both on-chain and Lightning Network transactions. With this pairing, there will be no fees on transactions for the majority of Venezuelans as the first $1,500 USD in processed transactions each month is free.
Using an open source API, we calculate an accurate BTC/VES (bitcoin/bolivar) rate so customers and vendors have a more stable base to conduct business from.
‘Pay me with Bitcoin’ allows users to complete both on-chain and Lightning transactions from their mobile devices with ease. Vendors can also use the OpenNode dashboard to manage their finances if they are looking for more detailed and intuitive merchant tools.
We hope our joint efforts will make a difference in Venezuela and further illustrate the value of how bitcoin can help economies in need.
Here is an example of the flow required for Venezuelans to use this service:
- Download the ‘Pay me with Bitcoin’ app: Android or Windows 10 (desktop/mobile)
- Create an OpenNode account: here
- OpenNode Dashboard -> Settings -> API Key -> Generate Key
- ‘Pay me with Bitcoin’ -> Settings -> Add Account -> Paste OpenNode API Key -> Save
- Your ‘Pay me with Bitcoin’ app and OpenNode account are now linked
- Your ‘Pay me with Bitcoin’ app can now be used to receive all on-chain and Lightning Network bitcoin payments
These are the big stories we want to share for now, but know we are always exploring how to expand and improve our services. We appreciate all feedback and are extremely thankful for our beta users and the valuable insight they have provided thus far.
In the coming months, we will be showcasing new branding and styling that is simple, defined, and geared for the vision OpenNode hopes to achieve. Our API will be available shortly, so traditional businesses can join the new payments era and developers can dive in and start experimenting.
We are striving to create a product that allows anyone, with any idea, to monetize it in an effortless way. We can’t wait to see what you come up with, and how you will use OpenNode to push your dreams forward.
If you would like to learn more about the Bitcoin for Venezuela Initiative (BFVI) or help by sending a donation, please visit: https://www.bitcoinvenezuela.com.
A special thanks to Randy Brito for his efforts with BFVI and his input on this post about the conditions in Venezuela.
Please be safe when dealing with LocalBitcoins sellers and only trade with those who have high feedback scores.