How digital payments are making them obsolete
Ric Edelman: It's Thursday, April 13th. In 2019, there were 470,000 ATMs all across the United States. Today, are there more or less? Today there are only 450,000; some 20,000 less. We don't need as many ATMs because, well, it's obvious people aren't using cash as much as we used to. We've gone digital. In 2010, cash and checks were used in 42% of all payments. Now it's just 14%. We've now got credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, Venmo and Zelle.
You think crypto won't become a bigger use? Crypto is faster, cheaper, safer and offers greater inclusion and transparency than any other payment system. And this is why it's growing. Fidelity customers can now buy bitcoin and Ethereum in a new Fidelity crypto account. Minimum investment is just $1. The trades are commission free. There's a 1% spread. The difference between the price you get for your bitcoin and the price of fidelity fills your order. That means that with 37 million retail accounts at Fidelity, another 8 million accounts at Fidelity managed by financial advisors, we're talking 45 million American investors who now have a free, quick, easy and safe way to buy bitcoin and Ethereum. And if you're not a Fidelity customer and you want to open a Fidelity crypto account, you first create a Fidelity brokerage account during your setup process. And Fidelity is not even done. In December, Fidelity filed three trademark applications related to providing services in the metaverse. This is a growing thing.
You think crypto is just limited to the United States? Not at all. I've told you in recent weeks that US regulators look like they're trying hard to kill crypto, but they have no chance of succeeding because crypto is not a US thing, it's a global thing. And here in the US, we might be able to say we really don't need crypto. After all, we've got bank accounts to store our cash until we need it and we've got good brokerage platforms to buy lots of different kinds of investments. But there are 2 billion people around the world who don't have access to bank accounts. They don't live near one or they can't afford the fees that banks charge. All you need to use Bitcoin though, is a phone.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Well, if somebody can't afford a bank account, how can they afford a smart phone? And if they live in a remote village, how can they have access to the Internet to make that smart phone work? The answer is they don't need to. To access the Bitcoin network, you don't need a smartphone, you don't need the Internet - all you need is an ordinary cell phone. And of the 2 billion people who don't have access to a bank account, 60% of them do have a cell phone.
There's now a company in Africa that's helping people in Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya and five other countries send and receive bitcoin with an ordinary cell phone. You simply dial a country code like *920*8333# for Ghana or *4833*8333# for Kenya. This brings up a menu that asks you to type in a five-digit pin. And once you enter the passcode, you can type in the number of a bitcoin wallet to send money to them. You can give people your bitcoin wallet ID so they can send bitcoin to you. The company hopes to have their service in place by 2026 for all 54 African nations.
And it's not just Africa that's embracing crypto. So is Latin America. Countries there are more likely than in the US to see a future for crypto payments and legal tender. A new survey just came out last week shows that 70% of the adults in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico believe crypto will become a reliable investment and source of payment. That's 70% compared to just 38% of US adults. Mastercard is now offering a crypto debit card in Mexico. Mastercard says 51% of consumers in Latin American countries have used crypto in a transaction.
And let me mention something about Bloomberg. They employ 2,700 journalists. Bloomberg is a big company, and every year in December, Bloomberg Businessweek polls those 2,700 journalists and asks them to name what they consider to be the best new books of the year. Bloomberg editors then choose 52 of those books, which they highlight as the best books of the year. And Bloomberg in 2022, for the first time in years, said not one of the 2,700 journalists recommended any book on crypto. Dozens were published, including, by the way, mine - The Truth About Crypto. Not only did The Truth About Crypto debut number one on Amazon, it won several awards, including being named one of the best books of the year by the Association of Business Journalists.
And yet, not one of Bloomberg's journalists ranked any crypto book as being one of the best books of the year. You’re really telling me that not one of the journalists who voted to make my book an award-winning book with the Association of Business Journalists works for Bloomberg?
It’s far more likely the reason that none of those 2,700 journalists considered any crypto book any good is because by the time they were asked to make their votes in December of last year, bitcoin was down 70% for the year. And everyone who had written about crypto in earlier years, well, they felt embarrassed. So I guess they were simply too chicken to recommend a crypto book right after crypto had fallen 70% in value. This is the same kind of mistake that investors make when they buy high and sell low.
When crypto was zooming, journalists were happy to promote crypto. But when crypto crashes, they stop talking about it. Well, guess what? So far this year, bitcoin is up 70%. And that means I think you're going to start hearing again about all the great crypto books that get published this year.
Hey, today at noon, I'm doing a 45-minute live podcast interview, The Real Vision Crypto Daily Briefing. It's hosted by Ash Bennington. I'll be talking about digital assets and you're welcome to join me for this. Go to RealVision.com.
I also want to tell you that I'm hosting our biggest conference of the year. It's the DACFP Vision event in June in Austin. It's the longest-running crypto investment conference specifically for financial advisors and accredited investors. I've got a great lineup of speakers including Downtown Josh Brown, Dave Hirsch, Chief of the Crypto Asset and Cybersecurity Unit of the SEC's Division of Enforcement, and Congressman Patrick McHenry, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee. We've got a pre-conference workshop on understanding blockchain and digital assets for those who are new to crypto. And during the conference we have another workshop where everyone will actually mint their own NFTs. If you're a financial advisor or accredited investor and you'd like to look at attending, learn more at DACFP.com.