Wirex is a company licensed by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which allows crypto users to spend their crypto and fiat currencies using a dedicated Visa card and mobile app. The service has been rolled out in 130 countries, with the card accepted at over 46 million locations.
Speaking to Cointelegraph on April 14, Wirex CEO Pavel Matveev said that more and more mainstream users “who are not typically hardcore cryptocurrency users” were being drawn to the card over traditional bank offerings thanks to features such as “Cryptoback,” which rewards Wirex users with up to 1.5% back in Bitcoin (BTC) for each in-store transaction.
“If we compare usage before Cryptoback existed and afterwards, there is a 100% increase in the number of in-store transactions per customer after,” he said.
The increase in demand has translated into the company achieving profitability, as was publicly announced earlier this month.
The impact of COVID-19
Matveev noted that at a time when global restrictions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic are in full force, cashless and contactless payments systems such as Wirex’s are a secure and low-friction means for users to transfer funds across borders.
Yet the impact of profound disruptions to everyday life and economic hardship is for now resulting in users spending much less in stores at point of sale, he said.
Three key figures for online Wirex card transactions offer a stark indication of this. Matveev revealed in a comparison of the first 20 days of February vs. March that:
“1) The total volume of online transactions is 15% down in March. The average check is 5% down. 2) Amazon volume is 17% down in March. The average check is 46% down. 3) Deliveroo volume is down 25% in March. The average check is 8% up.”
Despite many having anticipated that people would be spending more online during the lockdown, himself included, Pavel said, the data for now seems to indicate that the public “prefer to spend less during the turbulent period.”
To compile the statistics, sampling was done based on 1 million random transactions during the first 20 days of each month.
MakerDAO’s Dai stablecoin, which Wirex has supported since February 2019, has been increasingly popular with users, Matveev noted, considering this ties in with the growth of decentralized finance — also known as DeFi.
Under the terms of Wirex’s strategic partnership with MakerDao, Wirex will soon be offering users discounts on purchases of the MKR governance token, he revealed.
Holding MKR confers voting rights on the Maker protocol, providing investors with an opportunity for hands-on involvement in the day-to-day management of Dai. The firm anticipates that this opportunity will further increase demand for the DAI stablecoin on its platform.
As reported, Wirex had last spring revealed plans to launch support for 26 stablecoins pegged to fiat currencies, including USD, EUR, GBP, HKD and SGD.