Circle's new Euro-backed digital currency put to the test by CryptoRefills

Thursday 30 June 2022 12:15 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Interview

Massimiliano Silenzi’s CryptoRefills puts Circle’s new Euro-backed digital currency to the test at merchants across the globe. Let’s see what it means.

The euro is the second-largest currency in the world, just behind the US dollar. Despite its global market share at around 19% across various indicators of international currency use, the euro has an insignificant representation in stablecoins. How does Circle’s Eurocoin announcement impact the current situation?

I think they were a smart first mover, a trend we will see developing over the next few years. Over the shorter term, we will likely see other big players, such as exchanges currently offering USD-pegged stablecoins and issuing local versions for the world's top currencies. A GBP stablecoin was already announced by another provider, and similar new projects could be announced soon.

Over the medium term, it is also likely we will see a new class of players entering this space, mainly from the traditional banking sector, defining their new role in the market, somewhere in between ‘crypto’ pure players and CDBCs. Furthermore, the current economic and geopolitical situation could be a catalyst to disruption and innovation as we have never seen before in the currency markets, with the yet-to-come government or central bank money (CDBCs), competing with private or commercial bank money, and with public money such as Bitcoin. Locally pegged stablecoins could be the first sign of this dynamic. 

Will regulation hurt or benefit euro-pegged stablecoins?

We are not issuers of stablecoins, we only process them on publicly available blockchains, so I cannot speak for them as I am not aware of all the nuances and complexities around the issuance of these currencies. This said we have obviously been assessing the impact of European Regulation and the MiCA. Most points I read concerning stablecoins seemed reasonable and aimed at protecting consumers from issues such as those we have seen in the past weeks. But again, it is quite difficult for me to assess the direct impact of regulation on stablecoins. What I can say, is that I am quite disappointed in the broader European regulation approach, including MiCA. A framework I believe to be extremely burdensome and almost punitive in terms of compliance requirements, and where we risk giving an unfair advantage to companies that are established and operate outside of Europe. So going back to the impact of regulation on euro-pegged stabelcoins, without a rich and innovative European blockchain ecosystem it could also be more difficult for these digital currencies to thrive. 

Today, CryptoRefills announced being the first ecommerce to process and accept Circle’s Eurocoin. What does this mean for the region, in terms of the European merchants/businesses and consumers?

By enabling EUROC on CryptoRefills we are adding a concrete use case, and that is the opportunity to spend EUROC for real-world goods and services.

This means European consumers will be able to use our platform for a real shopping experience where they pay in a digital currency that shouldn’t expose them to the typical crypto volatility risks nor to foreign exchange rate risks (the USD/EUR pair suffered an 11% change in the last year). Furthermore, I believe some psychological factors will also come into play as it is likely European customers might prefer shopping and seeing prices in a currency they can relate to and understand. We expect our first customers paying with the Euro Coin to be quite crypto and blockchain savvy, maybe those working for exchanges and blockchain companies or active in the European DeFi and Web3 sector. Then we will likely see an extension towards the more mainstream crypto clientele, which is not only growing but also becoming more sophisticated and knowledgeable. 

When it comes to merchants, as a B2C-focused blockchain company, focused on innovation, we are obviously quicker to go to market with new currencies and blockchains. But over time, I think not only European users, but also European merchants can find interest in a Euro-pegged digital currency. European merchants may see a value in a currency that, with respect to other cryptos, is to them more comprehensible, has less accounting complexities and exchange rate risks and in general, has a European flavour and image.

What is CryptoRefills for those who do not know it yet and what does accepting Eurocoin mean for you?

CryptoRefills was born with the idea that there are tremendous opportunities around blockchain for creating better money and financial inclusion, freedom, privacy, and fairness. And, that cryptocurrency as a form of investment, saving and often speculation only serves the needs of a lucky few. So, for us, the biggest obstacle for cryptocurrency to unleash its full potential and become money, thus driving mass adoption, is the possibility for it to be used for everyday needs. On CryptoRefills customers from almost any country in the world can purchase gift cards from the world’s top digital and retail brands, top-up their mobile credit, and pay their phone and utility bills paying with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In other words, our customers can use Bitcoin and crypto for their everyday needs, from shopping at the supermarket to booking hotel stays, buying games and apps, paying for streaming services and other.

We have developed and operate a platform that allows us to self-process payments for the major cryptocurrencies and over the largest and most innovative blockchain networks.  Since we operate in such a new space, it is mission critical for us to understand and interpret our customers’ needs, be fast in launching the most promising blockchain payment technologies and currencies, and then educate and support our users. We are active in researching the consumer use of cryptocurrency through our Labs initiative and publish a yearly report on consumer use of cryptocurrency in retail. This is key to understanding where we should focus our innovation. We are among the earliest adopters of Lightning Network and are the first ecommerce in the world to launch stabelcoin payments via Ethereum Layer 2 networks, and fast finality blockchains. Today we offer our customers the widest variety of payment options, including Bitcoin and Litecoin payments, off-chain payments via Binance and different stablecoin payments across Ethereum, Avalanche, Polygon, Fantom, Arbitrum, and the Binance Smart Chain networks. So, enabling EUROC on our platform, on the day it is officially released by Circle is in line with our innovative approach and is first of all a message to our European customers that we are there to satisfy the different payment preferences of the communities we serve with the newest and most promising projects available.

About Massimiliano Silenzi

Massimiliano Silenzi is an Italian American Entrepreneur with +15 years of experience in Payments and Technology. He is the founder and CEO of CryptoRefills, former CEO of Onebip (mobile payments), and has covered innovation, leadership, and international management roles in mobile payment and commerce startups as well as in telco companies such as Ericsson Enterprise and Telecom Italia Mobile. Massimiliano holds a BA in Business Administration, MA in Marketing Management, and a PhD in Business and Finance.

Free Headlines in your E-mail

Every day we send out a free e-mail with the most important headlines of the last 24 hours.

Subscribe now

Keywords: ecommerce, stablecoin, Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, cryptocurrency exchange, CBDC
Categories: DeFi & Crypto & Web3
Countries: World
This article is part of category

DeFi & Crypto & Web3