Morgan Stanley Says Crypto Could Become More Widely Used as Currency

Partnerships with physical stores are a significant milestone in the evolution of bitcoin as a medium of payment, the bank said.

Few people use cryptocurrencies to pay for everyday goods because the transaction fees are high and merchants don’t accept crypto as payment, but that is changing, Morgan Stanley said in a research report Thursday.

The bank noted that payments company Strike recently announced a partnership with point-of-sales supplier NCR and payments firm Blackhawk Network, which means a large number of U.S. stores and restaurants will soon be able to accept bitcoin. Strike’s planned payment system uses the Lighting Network to process transactions, it added.

Morgan Stanley says partnerships with physical stores are a more important milestone in the “evolution of bitcoin usage as a medium of payment,” as over 85% of sales in the U.S. occur in shops rather than online.

The fee to send a bitcoin transaction using the Lightning Network is close to zero, which means it is more practical for making small payments that would normally be made using a debit card, the bank said.

The historical volatility of goods priced in bitcoin has also deterred the use of digital assets, but the ability of merchants to accept crypto, either through crypto cards or existing payment terminals, might lead to a fall in volatility in the digital asset, the bank posited.

Crypto is already widely used as a currency in the digital asset world, the report said, adding that ether is predominantly needed to buy non-fungible tokens (NFTs). As more brands look to advertise in the metaverse, there could be an increasing need to accept a range of payment methods, including crypto, it said.

NFTs are digital assets on a blockchain that represent ownership of virtual or physical items that can be sold or traded.