As cryptocurrency prices have skyrocketed and crashed repeatedly since the inception of this technology, virtual currencies have come to be seen more as an investment class, rather than as a medium of exchange. Arguably, this trend goes against Satoshi’s vision of a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Admittedly, though, financial instruments characterized by such extreme volatility are unsuitable for use in day-to-day commerce. Moreover, despite the fact that merchant adoption of cryptocurrency is rising, it is still not feasible to use cryptocurrency for every transaction.
But what about those of us who wish to be all in on crypto, or who are paid in crypto, but also need a way to spend their funds as life requires? We can charge our expenses to a credit card and liquidate crypto as needed at the end of the month to pay our bill, but what if the market crashes and we’re stuck with a bill we can’t pay? Alternatively, what if we sell a large portion of our holdings at the beginning of the month for spending money right before a rally?
Solving this exact problem is the goal of Monaco, an ambitious company that is attempting to the bridge the gap between crypto and the traditional payment infrastructure through the Monaco Card and Monaco Wallet app. The Monaco Visa Card is a debit card that allows customers to load up funds by selling their crypto holdings on the Monaco app.
Currently, the app and card support four cryptocurrencies—bitcoin, ether, Binance Coin, and the Monaco Token (MCO), and seven fiat currencies—USD, GBP, EUR, HKD, SGD, JPY, and CAN. Monaco also has plans to release a credit card which will allow users to borrow against their crypto holdings.
At Consensus 2018, we spoke with Bobby Bao, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Monaco, and Eric Anziani, the Senior Vice President of Group Strategy, about their products. Anziani told us, “Our vision is to power the future of money and to put cryptocurrency in every wallet.”
Several other products are in development at Monaco. They are currently working on an automated cryptocurrency investment platform called Monaco Auto Invest which will manage customers’ crypto holdings autonomously based on each customer’s investing goals and risk tolerance.
The company has also created Monaco University to teach people about digital currency and blockchain technology through written guides and short informational videos.
We asked about Monaco’s experience working with Visa, to which Anziani explained the process.
“What’s important to the traditional fintech players like Visa is a clear distinction between the cryptocurrency services and the fiat services. If you say ‘we can manage the crypto, will you help us with the fiat?’ then it’s easy to work together.”
Monaco had one of the most successful ICOs of 2017 with their MCO token, raising approximately $26.7 million. When asked if they had any advice for companies looking to fundraise via a token offering. Bao replied, “The best piece of advice I can give to a company [looking to launch an ICO] is ‘listen to your community.’ Cryptocurrency is community driven. You have to talk to people, not just online but offline, face-to-face. You have to be real. The great thing about being a cryptocurrency company—you’re a startup, but you’re also public. It feels like a family—you do business together.”
We also asked whether they believed their product was helping to address some of the barriers to entry into the crypto space, Anziani gave his views on adoption and what’s required to increase adoption.
“Less than 1% of the global population holds cryptocurrency. Access and usability are really two major challenges that are still present in the space. With our product, we are trying to tackle those challenges head-on.”