Uphold’s mobile App lets you instantly buy, sell, store, withdraw, and deposit FIAT currencies, cryptocurrencies and other financial assets. The App works as a simple crypto exchange, payment portal, and custodial wallet.
Founded in 2014, Uphold’s USP lies in the financial inclusion of cryptocurrencies, and other assets to provide affordable access for everyone. The application offers almost zero per cent fees and commission on trading, deposits and withdrawals of crypto along with the cheapest rates for Forex and cross-border remittances.
Moreover, it also offers interest rate earnings for some of the deposits. However, it only functions like a payments bank, i.e. does not offer banking services like loans, credit cards, insurances, etc.
It supports trading and payment in 27 FIAT currencies, 30 cryptocurrencies and 4 precious metals (Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium). According to the transparency page of the firm, the assets are backed 1:1, and they have transacted up to $6 billion since its launch.
The assets are divided into 5 tiers depending on the nature of permissions given to them with respect to cross-border and bank transfers. Nonetheless, it allows bank transfers for leading reserve currencies in the world including US Dollar, Euro, Chinese Yuan, British Pound, with the exception of Japanese Yen, which is one of the most popular reserve currencies in the world. It allows for bank transfers for both ACH (Automated Clearing House) and SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) based transactions.
Cryptocurrencies usually begin from Tier 3 which can be bought, held, sold, withdrawn and sent. These include leading decentralized tokens shown below.
The cryptocurrencies in Tier 4 and Tier 5 are limited in terms of cross-border transactions.
Bitreserve, the firm initially founded by Halsey Manor and J.P. Thieriot in early 2014 was rebranded as Uphold in 2015.
Thieriot continues to serve as the CEO of the existing firm, while Manor has moved to a virtual reality startup Live Planet and is involved in a cryptocurrency company called VideoCoin.
Post rebranding, the firm moved its focus from Bitcoin to traditional investment, corporate transactions, money transfers and remittances with the inclusion of banks. It plans to serve customers worldwide including Europe and China.
The firm initially raised $6.3 million in the initial investing round, followed by a $57.5 million strategic investment with Ripple by Greg Kidd, an early Twitter, Coinbase and Ripple investor. Currently, Crowdcube and Venovate are the leading investors in the firm.
The Uphold debit cards are powered by Mastercard® and offer a multi-asset spending capability which includes crypto, national currencies, gold, and other precious metals. Thieriot notes in a blog post,
“The Uphold Card is a milestone for our users and the cryptocurrency industry. Here, at last, is a debit card that transforms the utility of cryptocurrencies and other traditionally ‘unspendable’ assets by making them readily usable in everyday life.”
The launch of the debit cards was scheduled for late March 2020. However, it seems to have been pushed due to the spread of coronavirus across the world. The waitlist for obtaining the debit card is nonetheless open for registration.
Some of the other players in the market which provide crypto-based VISA or Mastercard debit cards include Coinbase, Embily, MCO cards, Paycent, Cryptopay and so on.
Uphold offers an open API interface which allows programmers to build financial applications on the app.
One of the strongest competitors of Uphold app is the Cash App by Square Inc. Square, Inc. is a financial services firm based out of San Francisco, California. It was founded by the creator of Twitter, Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey.
Cash App (formally known as ‘square cash’) was launched in 2013 to compete with leading digital wallets like Venmo, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
With the stock offering of Square Inc. and a functional debit card service, the Cash App seems to be leading space when it comes to versatile digital payments. Reportedly, more than 50% of Cash App’s revenue is from Bitcoin-related investments and payments.
Nevertheless, Upholds’ strategy allows for greater inclusion of a variety of assets and applications. It is a one-stop solution for investment in commodities and Forex markets which allows users to divv hersify their portfolios to protect against risk.
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