This Week in Payments: Crypto Use Doubles, Delivery Is Everything in Retail, and BNPL Is an M&A Play

Crypto made news this week on a couple of fronts. For one, Coinbase reported earnings that were a bit of a disappointment from the Street’s perspective, with both trading volumes and active users down. Notably, Coinbase advocated for a single digital asset regulator, mentioning that it currently has to answer to 53 of them.

“I’m like the big banks; I made fun of [crypto] three years ago and now I own it,” Drew Edwards, CEO of Ingo Money, told PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster. “I’m just speculating right now, just trying to keep up, trying to stay in the loop, but I’m making money on it.”

Read more: Coinbase Tells Investors to Remain Calm, Focus on Long Term as Trading Drops 29%

An Appetite for Crypto

PYMNTS research has shown there’s an increasing appetite for owning and spending crypto. In addition, banks are looking to hire experts in crypto and blockchain.

Edwards noted that, like always, the banks are following what has become inevitable in the FinTech world. He added that crypto is a natural fit for banks and Wall Street.

“I wish I could buy crypto in my Merrill Lynch account,” he said. “I wish I could spend crypto with my Apple Pay, in the normal way. For it to get mainstream, I think the banks have to get involved.”

Read more: Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, Goldman and Others Ramp up Crypto Staffs

A Convergence of Logistics and Retail

The week also saw some announcements that suggest a convergence of logistics and retail. For example, Walmart announced that its box truck pilot is now operating autonomously, without a driver, on a commercial delivery route.

“I guess one of the high-dollar costs in traditional retail is the expensive mega-box stores, the real estate, the staffing and all — so all that gets replaced with logistics, [with] centralized shipping,” Edwards said. “Scary thought to me, seeing trucks driving around with nobody in them, delivering goods, but I know it’s coming.”

Read more: Walmart Rolls out First-Ever Driverless Truck Route

In another example of logistics meeting retail, DoorDash launched Nationwide Shipping, a service that sends food and goods from local shops and restaurants to consumers anywhere in the country.

Edwards noted that many big retailers have their own trucks and wondered if that makes sense, except for a huge player like Amazon. “How does the little guy get into that game? I guess that’s where DoorDash has come into play, because they’re delivering for everybody.”

Read more: DoorDash Aims to Edge Out Goldbelly With ‘Nationwide Shipping’ Launch 

Another Big Week for BNPL

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) made news again this week, with Klarna expanding its offerings in the U.S. to include flexible payment for subscriptions and Affirm reporting that it has 8.7 million active users. Still, people often ask if BNPL is an enduring way to pay or just a passing fancy. 

Read more: Klarna Debuts US-Based Pay in 4 Subscription Service

“And what is the credit life cycle of that?” Edwards asked. “Affirm’s done awesome, but have they been through a downcycle? The thing I can’t get my head around is what happens in a recessionary cycle.”

Looking ahead, Edwards expects banks to acquire a BNPL player and mimic the FinTech model. “I don’t think they’ll buy Affirm, but I think there are plenty of others out there that will get in the space,” he said. “We always see cycles of innovation like that — with multitudes of people disintermediating the bank, so to speak. And eventually, it seems to roll back around to the consolidation of those players.” 

Read more: Shopify Partnership Spurs Explosive Merchant Growth for Affirm

A Reckoning for Streaming Services

This week also saw Disney+ report a slowdown, gaining just over two million paid viewers in its fiscal fourth quarter. This has led some to wonder if streaming services are losing their captive audiences as the pandemic abates and activities surge outside the home.

“I believe there’s a reckoning coming,” Edwards said. He added that he thought he was downsizing and saving money when he cut the cable, but then he had a good experience with Hulu, Apple TV and Netflix. Now, he said, “I’ve got so many I can’t keep track of them!”

Read more: Disney+ Subscription Slowdown Reflects Broader Streaming Trends