Cryptocurrency. Bitcoin. Blockchain. Digital currency. These are words most people don’t understand.
“Using digital currencies up until now has been very very difficult. Our next version called, 'Evolution,' is meant to address those things,” said Ryan Taylor. He’s the CEO of Dash Core Group, a cryptocurrency described as fast, digital cash that’s similar to Bitcoin, but better.
“Our motto is, it should be so easy, your grandmother can use it,” described Taylor.
Basically, he says people can buy Dash coin on their mobile device and use it with merchants online, like CheapAir.com or Bitcart, to buy discounted Amazon gift cards.
Dash can also be used for immediate person to person transactions that Taylor describes as secure, transparent and can’t be reversed.
“We're aiming for functionality very similar to Venmo,” said Taylor.
The cryptocurrency was born in Scottsdale just a few years ago and since then, it’s popularity has grown.
Using math and computer code called cryptology, it allows direct transfers of money without a third party like banks and their transaction fees.
Dash partnered with ASU and funds one of the first blockchain laboratories in the country to research the technology.
Blockchain is a digital ledger where transactions using cryptocurrency are recorded in chronological order, available for anyone to see.
“I can send Dash literally anywhere in the world, instantly, with transaction fees that are less than a penny, and it's really hard to compete with that,” explained Taylor.
Outside the U.S. in Zimbabwe, digital currencies are taking hold because cash is so hard to come by, people often have to line up for hours.
In Venezuela, where the inflation rate is headed toward a million percent this year, more than 400 businesses now deal in Dash.
"So we're addressing a real need there as well," said Taylor.
In Arizona, the goal is to bring Dash into the mainstream. To do that, they're partnering with another new local company called Abee Rideshare. It's set to launch this fall to compete with Uber and Lyft.
On YouTube, CEO Gil Brown explained how they'll accept Dash, which cuts out the credit card fees so the rider pays less and the drivers make more.
Perhaps the most obvious use for digital currency is in the cannabis industry, where Dash has also partnered with Tempe-based, Alt Thirty Six.
"I would say that we are the PayPal of digital currency," explains Alt Thirty Six CEO Ken Ramirez.
He says his payment platform allows dispensaries to transact using Dash with vendors and suppliers.
Traditionally it's an all-cash business because of federal law which raises security concerns and is costly.
"Fifteen to 20 percent of their total revenue goes toward cash-handling costs, so it's a pretty large problem and growing at an exponential rate," explained Ramirez.
His co-founder, Lauren Murphy demonstrated how easy it is to use Dash to pay for products on CannTrade, their first partner to roll out the new payment option this fall.
She says Dash is a lot faster and a lot less expensive than credit card payments, which are not allowed when it comes to cannabis products.Murphy says Alt Thirty Six will begin onboarding their merchants in California and Arizona late this year or early 2019.
Ramirez says the cannabis industry is only a start. He's in talks with valley restaurants and bars to deal in Dash, saying it's the payment of the future.
"We don't know what this is going to do to our financial lives yet, but I guarantee, it's going to be disruptive, and consumers need to start to learn about this in the same way that early adopters of the internet were ahead of the curve," said Taylor.
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