This Company Has Brought Cryptocurrency Into The Real World

09/18/2017 12:51 pm ET

You’ve probably heard about cryptocurrency, or its most popular currency, Bitcoin. But you may not have realized there aren’t any actual coins, but rather lines of code. And there are very few merchants that are set up to process payments using Bitcoin or other types of cryptocurrency.

And when Sam Sharma first got into trading cryptocurrencies three years ago, he was immediately struck with the idea of facilitating a way for average people to use this new currency in their daily lives. And to accomplish this, he founded Centra.

Centra is a debit card that will be tied to digital currency wallets and will allow their cardholders to spend their cryptocurrency as if it were any other type of government backed currency.

Making The Digital And The Real World Play Nice

If this seems like a simple idea that probably should have been tackled already, then you need to know a few things about cryptocurrency. First, they’re not sanctioned by any government. And this doesn’t make them illegal, far from it in fact, but it does mean they don’t have many regulations and banks aren’t quite sure how to deal with them.

And if you take a look at all of the plastic in your wallet, you’ll notice that they all have logos on them from companies such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. And these groups are the gatekeepers between your money and the goods you want to purchase.

When you swipe your card, the transaction has to go through many different processors and banks before the money can be exchanged between you and the merchant. And this can take some time. Thus, the credit card companies act as the middle man and carry some of that risk while the funds are being transferred.

So, for an industry as new and unregulated as cryptocurrency, you can see how these transactions can be a minefield to maneuver through. Not only are the values of cryptocurrencies changing significantly in the course of a few hours – meaning that apple you buy for .0001 Bitcoin might actually cost .0002 Bitcoin by the time the transaction clears – but most banks won’t accept these cryptocurrencies as payment.

But since these cryptocurrencies have value and are considered a valid form of currency by many companies and governments – again, not sanctioned but they are recognized – then someone needs to be the middle man for the buyers and the sellers.

And that’s the role that Centra will fill.

High Hopes

Now, in the United States this may seem like a silly industry for Centra to enter. After all, there are these massive competitors that we already mentioned in the credit card companies. But when you realize that 38% of the world’s adult population doesn’t even have a bank account, you can begin to see how a solution like Centra could see this space as having a ton of potential.

“Americans and most first world citizens know that when they swipe a card that their government will support the dollar or currency that is being spent,” Centra CMO Bob Farkas explains. “But in places like Zimbabwe there are 100 Trillion dollar notes in circulation because the government of that country mismanaged their currency and left the people in dire circumstances.”

Bob hopes to provide everyone around the world the ability to have the security and trust in their currency that first world people take for granted, and at the same time also provide first world citizens with access to their digital currencies whenever and wherever they’d like.

They’ll also be launching their Centra Market Place called cBay.io shortly. This will be an online platform with auction abilities like eBay but will allow trades to be completed using cryptocurrency.

To facilitate this endeavor, Bob and Centra are launching their ICO, or initial coin offering. It will begin on September 19th and run through October 5th. You can find out more about Centra and their upcoming ICO here.

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