The Future of Cryptocurrency: Why E-commerce is the Answer

Randall Stephens
The Startup
Published in
6 min readDec 4, 2018


Ever since bitcoin emerged 10 years ago, people have asked one key question: What can we use it for?

Some enthusiasts expected cryptocurrencies to replace fiat money by now. Some skeptics said bitcoin was just money for geeks, and that it would never reach the mainstream. Now, 10 years on, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Bitcoin has thrived and many other altcoins have hit the market, but the future of cryptocurrency is still vague.

While most people still don’t use bitcoin in everyday life, the number of things you can buy with crypto is growing. According to CoinMap, 14,418 venues around the world currently accept bitcoin. Obviously, that’s not enough to reach mainstream adoption. Maybe it will never be, due to bitcoin’s small supply and unequal distribution.

We need a new coin with better characteristics and a new use that best fits cryptocurrency. To find that coin, let’s look at the industry that perhaps works best with crypto: e-commerce.

Why e-commerce?

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t bought something over the internet at some stage. Indeed, e-commerce has grown tremendously over recent years, and it will continue to grow in years to come.

Just look at these stats:

In 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to US$2.3 trillion, and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to US$4.88 trillion by 2021.

According to these estimates, retail e-commerce sales worldwide will double in just four years. Furthermore, retail e-commerce sales as a percentage of global retail sales are getting higher every year. Why? Because more and more people are buying from the comfort of their own home rather than going out.

It’s not just customers who benefit; many brands offer their products online to reduce costs. The fact that e-commerce benefits all parties suggests this trend will continue.

The graph below clearly indicates that:

In 2017, e-retail sales accounted for 10.2 percent of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 17.5 percent by 2021.

As you can see, the potential of e-commerce is great, and it’s growing every day. But how does this fit into the future of cryptocurrency?

Let’s take a look.

Why cryptocurrency?

Although e-commerce is growing, the obsolete global financial system represents the biggest barrier to its expansion. Currently, banks act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers on the internet. That’s not a big problem for people who already shop online. However, there are many people who could benefit from online shopping but can’t open a bank account.

I’m talking about people from third-world countries where banking systems are undeveloped, as well as disadvantaged people from developed countries. According to some estimates, there are more than two billion people worldwide who fall under this category.

Cryptocurrency could connect those people with the world of e-commerce. After all, they just need an internet connection to get started. There’s no list of requirements for downloading a wallet and using digital coins as a means of payment. You don’t even need to provide your personal information.

There are other benefits, of course. Cryptocurrencies aim to replace centralized systems such as banks, eliminating the need for an intermediary. That will greatly simplify the shopping process, as well as reducing fees for all concerned.

Some benefits of decentralization to e-commerce:

  • No intermediaries — banks cannot impose their rules.
  • A greater level of autonomy for merchants.
  • No frozen accounts.
  • No middleman fees, unlike on eBay or Etsy.
  • A greater level of privacy for customers.
  • International transactions without exchange rates.
  • A new level of protection against counterfeit and fraudulent purchases.

Where’s the catch?

We need a working platform that allows buyers and sellers to trade with each other using cryptocurrency. But not just any cryptocurrency. As I mentioned above, we need a new coin with characteristics specially designed for e-commerce.

In other words, we need a coin created specifically for — and embedded into — this platform. That is possible only with a cryptocurrency designed from the ground up to protect buyers.

So, when you hear that Amazon or any other internet retailer is going into the blockchain business, that’s not the answer. Merging any random cryptocurrency with an established e-commerce platform could be promising, but it won’t be effective in the long run.

That isn’t the future of cryptocurrency we’re hoping for. Only by creating a decentralized marketplace with its own embedded coin can we really make significant change.

Safex: the future of cryptocurrency in e-commerce

Several different projects are offering their solutions to this problem. But, to my knowledge, only Safex looks like delivering a truly workable solution. Safex’s development team is building a platform that uses a mineable coin called Safex Cash to buy goods and services.

It’s something like Amazon and UpWork combined, but it uses its own embedded coin for transactions. That will make purchasing easier and — importantly — more private. After all, Safex Cash is a privacy coin; there’s no need for anyone to know what you’ve bought online.

The Safex marketplace is expected to launch by the summer of 2019, but Safex Cash has already arrived. In fact, anyone can start mining Safex Cash straight away. With mass adoption in mind, the Safex team has created a miner that anyone — with any computer — can use.

This miner focuses on CPU mining. That means you don’t need any bulky machines or expensive mining rigs to get started; you can mine coins with your desktop, or even your laptop. The miner also scores highly in terms of UX; it’s so simple that you can get started with one click.

From e-commerce to c-commerce

The idea of Safex is to turn e-commerce into c-commerce, where c stands for crypto. With that new push, the online retail industry could grow even more than is predicted in the graphs above.

Over the next year, experts predict e-retail sales will reach 13.7% of the global retail industry. With the launch of Safex’s marketplace, this percentage could be even higher. While c-commerce will undoubtedly take a percentage of existing e-commerce sales, we can also expect it to reach new customers who have been unable to shop online until now.

There’s no doubt the crypto industry is going to have a significant impact on the e-commerce world, especially with projects like Safex. We’re yet to see all the benefits crypto coins can bring to online shopping.

But one thing is for sure: The future of cryptocurrency lies in online platforms designed to make trade easier for both buyers and sellers.

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Randall Stephens
The Startup

Economist, cryptocurrency enthusiast, editor @