Lisa Ellis is an expert in the payments industry and one of Wall Street’s top analysts. She is also a partner at MoffettNathanson, a research firm. In the past, she has stated that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are attempting to solve a non-existent problem. She had remarked in an interview with CNBC that the current payment system in place works very well and that it would be extremely difficult to replicate.
In more recent interviews and in notes to clients, Ellis has begun to change her mind. She said that an unbranded payment system such as Bitcoin could likely put the big players such as Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal at risk, but that this was not something likely to happen in the near future. She stressed that problems with the system are gradually being solved and there are some cases where usage of cryptocurrencies could prove useful.
Companies such as Ripple that allow you to buy cryptocurrency instead of mining for them, are another risk for traditional payment systems. However, Ellis says that using blockchain technology, combined with the authentication ability of these networks, could open new doors for companies such as Visa and Mastercard.
In more recent interviews, Ellis has admitted that Bitcoin may very well disrupt the existing payment structure. We may be on the eve of a new type of payments system that is decentralized, unbranded and open to the public.
So what do the existing payment companies say about the issue? Al Kelly, the CEO of Visa, stated that he does not see cryptocurrencies as a threat so far. He did say that if they must adapt their business in the future, they will.
MasterCard is attempting to work with cryptocurrencies rather than fight against them. They are trying to speed up digital transactions, so more merchants are willing to accept these payments from consumers.
John Rainey, CFO of PayPal, states that his company hasn’t seen consumers showing very much interest in cryptocurrencies yet. He feels consumers are still worried about the volatility of such payments. He did not say, however, that PayPal will not get behind crypto in the future.
The use of Bitcoin in commerce is rising at a steady rate. Cambridge Associates, a consultant firm for pensions and endowments, stated that investors should begin researching cryptocurrencies. Their opinion is that currencies such as these may very well upend the entire digital payment system in the future. Though there is some risk involved in using currencies such as Bitcoin, it certainly seems that they are here to stay.