Institutional investment – the term that crypto enthusiasts have been calling for across a 5-year span appears to have finally ignited.
Whilst institutional investment still seems to be in its earlier stages, the number of large institutions developing crypto-focused products seems to be much more rampant, especially amongst payment providers and neo-banks.
In April, PayPal announced its crypto checkout. Those who hold crypto in their PayPal digital wallet can now convert their holdings into spendable fiat at over 29 million checkouts.
Similarly, Revolut became the first neo-bank to dip its foot in the water by offering easy buying and selling of popular cryptocurrencies via their finance app.
However, despite the scale of these businesses, the crypto features they have developed are incredibly limiting. Users can purchase crypto and it will appear on-screen, or, users can sell crypto and it will disappear from their screen; that is all.
The user cannot transfer their newly purchased crypto outside of the PayPal digital wallet or their Revolut app, and these limitations are quite drastic. The ability to send and receive crypto is arguably the only function required from a cryptocurrency.
Why does this matter? It means the user does not actually own the cryptocurrency they purchased via these platforms. It is purely numbers on a screen, a voucher attributed to the users’ name stating you own ‘X’ amount of a cryptocurrency without permitting you to do anything with that asset.
That was until this month when Revolut accidentally leaked their plans for a major uplift in the quality of their crypto features. A rapidly removed blog highlighted plans to offer withdrawal functionality that would make crypto tangible for their users. Despite the potentially vast improvements, it does raise the question as to whether traditional finance platforms can meet the needs of the everyday crypto enthusiast.
One heavily crypto-orientated finance app that is hoping to tackle the issue from a different direction is Plutus. Having started as a crypto payments app before expanding into the traditional finance markets, the team consists of crypto veterans who are heavily aligned with DeFi values.
Plutus customers create a fiat account to manage GBP/EUR, from which they can connect any personal crypto wallet they like to it whilst retaining possession of the private keys. This means, unlike other crypto cards such as Coinbase, Binance and Revolut, the user owns the crypto at all times.
The Plutus app then includes a decentralized exchange (DEX) whereby users can swap crypto for fiat and vice versa, without any 3rd party intermediary handling the users’ assets. This coupled with a Visa Debit Card allows users to convert and spend crypto at 70+ million merchants worldwide. To rival Revolut Perks, Plutus offers 3% crypto rewards every time a user spends with their Plutus Card which amounts to far greater earnings.
Plutus has been quietly developing several unique features that distinguish it from anyone else on the market but given the size of existing competitors such as Coinbase, Revolut and Crypto.com; there are still challenges ahead for the start-up.
Since launching a little over a year ago, over 35,000 customers have opened Plutus accounts which is small in comparison to larger players who have attained millions of customers collectively. However, considering the product range available and the appetite for crypto, the potential for growth is huge.
On top of this, Plutus recently raised $5 million from a prominent crypto fund, Alphabit, via a token acquisition which puts them in a prime position for tackling this current void between centralized finance and decentralized crypto.
Competitors are exceeding in one area or the other, but no one has excelled in both regions and this brings huge upside potential for Plutus. With crypto in the limelight now more than ever, it won’t take long to find out whether the growth-stage start-up can dominate the scene.