Western Union may be preparing to offer crypto-related services, judging from trademark applications filed by the company last week. This is the latest of several attempts the company has made to enter the cryptoverse. So far, it has had limited success.
Western Union filed for three trademarks on Oct. 18. According to trademark attorney Mike Kondoudis, activities covered by the applications include managing wallets, exchanging digital assets and commodities derivatives, issuing tokens of value, and brokerage and insurance services.
Western Union is a major provider of cross-border remittance services, and it showed its interest and uncertainty in cryptocurrency early. It partnered with Ripple to settle payments of remittances in 2015, but that partnership remained in the test phase three years later, and Western Union announced that it was not adding crypto transfers to its services in the foreseeable future.
Western Union did, however, continue to investigate and engage with electronic wallets. It partnered with blockchain platform Coins.ph to enhance its services in the Philippines with technical support from Thunes.
The remittance market is becoming more competitive. In February, Coinbase targeted Mexico, the world’s second-largest remittance market, with a service that allowed users to send U.S. dollars and withdraw Mexican pesos. Several other companies have entered the Mexican market this year as well, and a number of financial inclusion solutions are also offering alternatives to traditional remittance providers.
Now, Western Union seems to be positioning itself to offer remittance services and more on the crypto market, such as a digital assets exchange and insurance, and it might issue its own token. Western Union is still entering a crowded and competitive field, where companies such as PayPal and Mastercard have also recently opened up shop.
Nearly half of Gen Z and Millennials want to see crypto become a part of their 401(k) retirement plans, according to an October survey from United States asset manager Charles Schwab.
Asking participants what they would like to see added to their 401(k) retirement products, the firm found that 46% of Gen Z and 45% of Millennials said they “wish” they could invest in cryptocurrencies as part of their retirement planning.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the survey also found that 43% of Gen Z and 47% of Millennials are investing in cryptocurrencies outside their 401(k) already, which could suggest the group’s affinity for the asset class.
The asset manager surveyed 1,100 401(k) retirement plan participants aged between 21 to 70 to complete the 10-minute survey conducted between April 4 and April 19, 2022.
Participants of the survey needed to have worked for a company with 25 or more employees and be current contributors to their company’s 401(k) plans.
Millennials generally refer to those born in the early 1980s to mid-1990s, with Gen Z generally born between the mid to late 1990s to the early 2010s.
The results are in stark contrast to the surveyed Gen X and Boomers — those born anywhere between the mid-1940s to late 1970s — with just 31% and 11% respectively wanting to invest in cryptocurrencies through their 401(k), and even less being current investors in the asset class.
Across the board, inflation was seen as the leading obstacle to retirement.
A similar study by Investopedia in April found only 28% of United States-based Millennials and 17% of Gen Z’s surveyed expected to use cryptocurrency to support themselves in retirement, however.
The asset manager currently does not offer any cryptocurrency investments as part of its 401(k) retirement plans, though crypto-based retirement funds have been in the works since Feb. 2019.
In April, Fidelity Investment reportedly put plans together to open up Bitcoin investment for ts 401(k) retirement saving account holders, with savers allowed to allocate as much as 20% of Bitcoin to their savings portfolio.
In Australia, Rest Super became the first retirement fund to offer cryptocurrency allocation as part of a diversified portfolio to its 1.9 million members in Nov. 2021.
While most digital asset retirement funds are offered in the form of Bitcoin or Ether, a North Virginian county speculated putting a proportion of retirees’ pension funds into a decentralized finance (DeFi) yield farming account in May. 2022 — which was later approved in Aug. 2022.
Controversies like this have left U.S. Senators divided on the seriousness of the risks involved with crypto-exposed 401(k) retirement plans.
Among those are Senators Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin and Tina Smith, who’ve previously argued that it is a “bridge too far” to expose American’s “hard-earned” retirement funds to “cryptocurrency casinos.”
Nigeria’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) is not getting the warm reception expected from its crypto-savvy population.
This comes despite Nigeria being identified by Chainalysis as the top country in Africa for crypto adoption and ranking 11th globally, while a KuCoin report found that 35% of the Nigerian population aged 18 to 60 had owned or traded cryptocurrencies this year.
Bloomberg noted that Nigerians have been confused due to a lack of clarity from the state which cracked down on crypto last year.
In February 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria banned banks from servicing crypto exchanges in an effort to sever fiat on and off ramps.
Educating people who are generally wary of the state and ruling elite has also become a challenge for the central bank, according to the report.
Furthermore, the naira has been devalued around six times since 2015, and economists expect a further 20% loss in value next year, as the economy has been further compounded by galloping inflation, which could make the push for a CBDC a hard sell to many of the country’s citizens.
According to the director at Lagos-based emerging and frontier markets investment bank Renaissance Capital, Adesoji Solanke, “the eNaira does not address any of these basic use cases, so no surprise at its low adoption rates so far.”
The disappointing figures are now prompting the Nigerian central bank to ramp up efforts to increase its adoption, including offering a 5% discount to drivers and passengers of motorized rickshaws that ply the city streets, according to the report.
In August, Nigerian Central Bank governor Godwin Emefiele announced the eNaira project entered its second phase in August with an adoption target of eight million users.
At the time, he added that the CBDC has had about 840,000 downloads, with about 270,000 active wallets. By August, there had been around 200,000 transactions worth 4 billion nairas — approximately $9.5 million at the time.
According to the Atlantic Council’s CBDC tracker, Nigeria is one of eleven countries to have fully deployed a central bank digital currency, the other ten are in the Caribbean.
This Daily Dose was brought to you by Cointelegraph.