Značka: stellar

Tribal Credit raises $40M in 'hybrid' debt round funded by dollars and stablecoins

Crypto-focused enterprise payment platform Tribal Credit has concluded a $40 million debt offering that was funded through fiat and stablecoins — giving the company additional capital to expand its business services in Latin America. The so-called hybrid debt round was financed by Partners for Growth, a California-based investment firm, and Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), which is a non-profit organization supporting the growth of the Stellar blockchain. Tribal said it will use the capital to fund receivables from its customer base throughout Latin America, particularly Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru. Tribal COO Duane Good explained to Cointelegraph that funding receivables from its customer base means that “Tribal can use the debt facility to help customers” in the aforementioned countries. In other words, “this new debt facility will be used to support our customer’s spending on the Tribal platform.” When asked about the mechanics of the hybrid debt raise, Good explained that “a portion of the debt facility was established with SDF and funded through USDC.” A traditional debt facility, by contrast, “is an agreement with insittutiional lenders that enables a financial services firm to draw on the facility to support the underlying credit needs of their portfiolio.”Launched in 2016, Tribal Credit provides credit cards and other forms of funding to startups in emerging markets. The company also employs a cross-border payment system supported by cryptocurrency exchange Bitso that allows businesses to convert local currency to Stellar’s USDC stablecoin. Integration with Stellar blockchain began in April 2021 after Tribal received $3 million from the Stellar Development Foundation. Related: Crypto payments solutions firm Ramp raises $53 million to increase adoption of DApps”Mexico could be another example of a country adopting cryptocurrencies for remittances, as estimates have shown they could reduce costs by 50% to 90%.” – @ashady, CEO of Tribal. For more information, visit: https://t.co/g0oa3GvzZ4#TribalCredit— Tribal Credit (@TribalCredit) October 22, 2021Tribal and others have identified small businesses as a major source of growth for crypto payments and remittances, especially in emerging markets where access to traditional financial services is often limited. Data from the World Bank shows that small- and medium-sized enterprises in emerging markets create roughly seven out of 10 jobs, making their access to financing more important.

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Crypto in the House: Execs on the march, US partisan politics and Web3

On Dec. 8, top executives from six major crypto companies faced the United States House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee during a special hearing on digital assets. While the tone of the conversation was largely proclaimatory, the industry reacted with an optimistic buzz — it seems that crypto is bound to become a hot topic on the Hill for years to come.The meeting that took place in Congress also garnered much attention from mainstream media. What’s notable is the fact that this hearing is the first time that the industry’s senior leaders (aka “crypto moguls”) directly expressed the fears and hopes of the $2.2-trillion sector to U.S. legislators.The industry representatives who were summoned to testify at the hearing included Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle; Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX; Chad Cascarilla, CEO of Paxos; Denelle Dixon, CEO of the Stellar Development Foundation; Brian Brooks, CEO of Bitfury; and Alesia Haas, chief financial officer of Coinbase. this is the first positive public hearing on crypto that I can remembercongress seems to have done their homework, industry seems prepared and synchronizedstill not sure what stellar is doing therevery bullish – could be the start of a trend— Vance Spencer (@pythianism) December 8, 2021Some of the key legislators who actively engaged with the crypto industry captains were Representative Pete Sessions, a Republican from Texas; Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California; Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York; Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California; Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican from North Carolina; Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Republican from Missouri; and Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio. So, here’s how it went down on the big day.Key argumentsAllaire supported this point with an example from his firm’s operations: “Just in the past several weeks, Circle has signed on institutional customers who are using these services for small-business payments, international remittances and efficient payments for remote workers.” As he optimistically stated, soon “Dollars on the internet will be as efficient and widely available as text messages and email.”Brooks took the message even closer to key political tensions of the day as he emphasized the opposition between tech behemoths such as Meta (formally Facebook) and the decentralizing impulse of crypto: At the center of the CEOs’ narrative was the humanitarian significance of digital assets and their developmental potential. Cascarilla framed crypto as a “really powerful tool for democratization of access.” The point of crypto is to have true decentralization, and the projects that succeed will be the projects that achieve that. Bitcoin succeeded because there were literally millions of participants in the node network, and so there is no CEO of Twitter to deplatform you, there’s no CEO of JPMorgan to take away your credit card.It was also Brooks who laid out the powerful promise of the blockchain-powered Web3 era. Aside from the fiery rhetoric, the message from the industry leaders was crisp and straightforward: It’s about time to bilaterally reconsider the rules of the game and put an end to the government’s suspicious paternalism. The industry is still being overseen by several federal agencies, state-by-state regulation is a mess, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is trying to hold its grip, characterizing digital assets as securities. Well #crypto community… engagement in Washington is working! I think it’s clear from today’s hearing that we’ve turned a corner. Keep building. We’ll keep educating. #wagmi— Kristin Smith (@KMSmithDC) December 8, 2021

The last point was clearly emphasized as the main problem: Coinbase’s Haas proposed deeming blockchain-based tokens as digital property or a way to record ownership, which would put them outside of the SEC’s jurisdiction.Brooks didn’t spare words when highlighting the dysfunctional patterns of the current situation: “What happens in the United States is you have a new crypto project, and you walk into the SEC, and you describe it in great detail, and you ask for guidance, and they say, ‘We can’t tell you’ and ‘You list it at your own peril.’”I’m surprised that after the congress hearings we didn’t get a pump! Today was a big day for crypto in the US! The hearings were super constructive and the senators were extremely positive! Incredible— Ran NeuNer (@cryptomanran) December 8, 2021

Political divisionsThe Dec. 8 hearing once again brought out a division regarding crypto-related issues that exists along party lines. Democrats focused their attention on investor protection and volatility, framing the industry as a potential threat to both uninformed investors and the global economy (environmental concerns were also mentioned.)“Currently, cryptocurrency markets have no overarching or centralized regulatory framework, leaving investments in the digital assets space vulnerable to fraud, manipulation and abuse,” as Waters, who chairs the Financial Services Committee, put it.Related: Lines in the sand: US Congress is bringing partisan politics to cryptoSherman, one of the industry’s most consistent critics, expressed this anxiety in a quite vague, if not cryptic, form: “The powers in our society on Wall Street and in Washington have spent millions, and are trying to make billions or trillions, in the crypto world.” Republican legislators, who — following a decades-old pattern of the American electoral system — are projected to win the majority in Congress in the next midterm elections, demonstrated a pragmatic approach.My hope is that Congress will work with the digital asset market in its infancy to help Americans prosper and progress us forward as leaders on the world stage.https://t.co/m6iKPql03Q— Pete Sessions (@PeteSessions) December 11, 2021

In the words of McHenry, who is poised to chair the Financial Services Committee if the GOP wins back the House:This technology is already regulated. Now, the regulations may be clunky, they may not be up to date. I ask my friends, my policymaker friends here on the Hill, this question: Do you know enough about this technology to have a serious debate?Sessions went even further and gave an outright cheer to the industry, uttering a promise to support it: “I am tremendously impressed that from what I see, a lot of the ingenuity, a lot of entrepreneurial spirit, and lots of advice about the future, about where this can grow, is, I think, very important for us to listen to.”Industry responseDespite certain disagreements between legislators, the hearing sparked a largely positive reaction from the crypto community, with Jake Chervinsky, head of policy at the Blockchain Association, calling it “the most positive, constructive, & bipartisan public event on crypto I’ve seen in Congress” and other experts largely projecting similar vibes.Today’s HFSC hearing was the most positive, constructive, & bipartisan public event on crypto I’ve seen in Congress — ever. I mean that literally.It’s a testament to the effectiveness of industry & community engagement in DC in recent months. We’ve made shockingly big progress.— Jake Chervinsky (,) (@jchervinsky) December 8, 2021

Some representatives also projected an empathic epigraph in the aftermath of the hearing. Perhaps the most eloquent reaction belongs to Meeks, who demonstrated a moderate optimism toward the industry’s future:The future of innovation in the financial markets is inevitable.The use of digital assets can help underserved communities access additional financial tools – but we must make sure there is global coordination around regulation. pic.twitter.com/2DbvTZKMvp— Rep. Gregory Meeks (@RepGregoryMeeks) December 8, 2021

The silence of crypto critic Sherman, normally an active Twitter user, was also notable.What’s nextThe overall optimistic mood of the hearing stands in contrast to some of the recent regulatory actions taken by the U.S. government. For one, the SEC denied WisdomTree’s application for a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund after seven months of consideration, keeping it impossible to invest in a regulated financial product providing direct exposure to the world’s oldest cryptocurrency.Surely, the hearing will not be the last turn in the crypto-government conversation, even for 2021. Already, a hearing on stablecoins took place before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Dec. 14. As Representative McHenry put it, “Congress must work to fully understand and embrace these innovative new technologies, like #crypto.” It looks like everyone should brace for a busy 2022 in crypto policy and regulation.

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Ukrainian bank uses Stellar to launch electronic hryvnia pilot

Tascombank, one of the oldest commercial banks in Ukraine, is launching a Stellar-based pilot for Ukraine’s national fiat currency, the hryvnia.The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) announced on Dec. 14 a private electronic hryvnia pilot launched by Tascombank and fintech company Bitt.The electronic hryvnia pilot is being implemented under the supervision of the National Bank of Ukraine and is supported by the Ministry of Digital Transformation (MDT).Oleksandr Bornyakov, deputy minister of the MDT, said that the pilot project will provide a “technological basis for the issuance of electronic money” and is the “next key step to advance innovation of payment and financial infrastructure in Ukraine.”SDF CEO Denelle Dixon told Cointelegraph that the pilot work has already kicked off, with the first test including programmable payroll for public employees at Diia, a public IT solutions enterprise owned and supported by the MDT of Ukraine.“This regulated electronic hryvnia will be privately issued e-money on blockchain technology, built under Ukraine’s current e-money legislation,” Dixon noted.The purpose of the initiative is to test the issuance of electronic money on an open blockchain. Tascombank is responsible for building and testing the electronic hryvnia on Stellar to deploy it on Bitt’s transaction network known as Digital Currency Management System, or DCMS.“Bitt’s DCMS will equip Tascombank with all of the technology required to securely mint, store, issue, distribute, and redeem the electronic hryvnia,” Bitt CEO Brian Popelka said.While Bitt is providing a transaction network, SDF will help Tascombank “configure for their asset control needs while maintaining the interoperability and flexibility of an open ledger,” Dixon noted.Related: Ukrainian president returns virtual asset bill to parliament for revisionThe Ukrainian government has been actively exploring Stellar for digital currency implementations. In January 2021, the MDT first partnered with the SDF to develop a digital asset and infrastructure strategy for a central bank digital currency.“We continue to provide input and guidance to MDT on their strategy work,” Dixon stated, adding that the electronic hryvnia pilot project is a separate workstream.

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Tribal Credit taps Bitso and Stellar to enable cross-border B2B payments

Enterprise payment platform Tribal Credit has partnered with Latin American crypto exchange Bitso and the Stellar Development Foundation to create a new cross-border payment service for businesses, opening the door to broader use cases for blockchain technology in the region.The new service, which is geared towards small- and medium-sized enterprises, enables companies in Mexico to pay for goods and services in their native peso currency and have their counterparts in the United States receive the payments in dollars. The service will rely on the Stellar blockchain, a decentralized open-source payment network specializing in cross-currency transactions. Tribal Credit’s cross-border payment system will be facilitated by Bitso, a multi-billion-dollar crypto exchange that will enable merchants to convert pesos to Stellar’s USDC stablecoin. Bitso was a key partner in the rollout of El Salvador’s state-issued Bitcoin (BTC) wallet Chivo. El Salvador’s Bitcoin journey is forging on. The central bank of El Salvador has published draft regulations on how banks should handle BTC. https://t.co/GFiN0m0cEX— Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) August 19, 2021The Stellar Development Foundation, or SDF, is a non-profit organization supporting the growth and adoption of the Stellar blockchain. Stellar’s native XLM cryptocurrency has been a mainstay in the digital asset market over the past four years and currently ranks 26th by total market capitalization. (Interestingly, two members of SDF were inducted into the Cointelegraph Top 100 for 2021.)ICYMI: SDF had not just one but TWO of our leaders on @cointelegraph’s top 100 people in blockchain in 2021: @denelledixon and @jedmccaleb. Check them out at #31 and #58!https://t.co/sVTuKZ6SP7— Stellar (@StellarOrg) February 13, 2021

When asked about why Tribal Credit selected Stellar for its cross-border payment service, chief research scientist Ehab Zaghloul told Cointelegraph that the protocol aligns with Tribal’s mission to “promote financial inclusion and democratize access to financial services.” Stellar is also “fast and charges nearly nothing for transactions, making it far more affordable and efficient than its competitors,” he said in a written statement. Fast and efficient cross-border payments are one of the most promising use cases of blockchain technology in an age where traditional wire transfers remain cumbersome, expensive and slow. As Cointelegraph reported, credit card giant Visa acquired cross-border payment fintech Currencycloud in July for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition is intended to help Visa improve its foreign exchange business.Related: B2B firms want cross-border payments but skeptical of crypto: SurveyTribal Credit has identified Latin America as one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for cross-border transactions involving businesses. Led by Mexico, the region represents a $175 billion market opportunity that could be ripe for disruption by companies willing to experiment with blockchain technology. “Economic conditions in Latin America certainly do make the region receptive to crypto payment services,” Tribal Credit’s chief strategy officer Mohamed Elkasstawi told Cointelegraph in a written statement. “Crypto and stablecoins serve as a hedge against inflation and currency devaluation not just in Latin America, but in many other countries as well.” Elkasstawi also credited widespread adoption of smartphones for crypto’s growing mainstream appeal in the region:”It’s also worth considering that everyone with a smartphone can transact in crypto, so in a region where not everyone lives a reasonable distance from traditional financial institutions, cryptocurrencies provide a useful supplementary financial service for many individuals across Latin America.” 

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