Exchanges have played a vital role in bringing cryptocurrencies to the masses. As the primary means to convert fiat into blockchain assets, they are indispensable to the crypto economy. Exchanges have evolved significantly over the years, and as they take on new roles they demonstrate that the blockchain revolution is still in its infancy. Recently large, multi-coin exchanges have announced plans to begin accepting fiat and create fiat trading pairs. This move is a major leap forward, and promises to significant alter valuations and adoption rates across the crypto space.
A significant barrier to purchasing altcoins is the fact that very few can be acquired directly with fiat currencies. Major multi-coin exchanges, such as Bittrex, Binance, and Poloniex, require altcoins to be purchased with Bitcoin or a handful of other big digital currencies, such as Ether or Dash. Bittrex, however, has announced that it will soon begin accepting US Dollar deposits, and plans to enable USD trading all across its large selection of coins. Other exchanges are either entering, or expanding their fiat services. Bitfinex, for example, will soon offer trading with Japanese Yen (JPY) and British Pounds (GBP). Binance will soon offer trading with Euros and Ugandan Shillings.
Trading and purchase options are also diversifying beyond the major centralized exchanges. Some fiat exchanges are emerging for specific altcoins, such as Vertbase, which offers the direct purchase of Vertcoin. Also, decentralized exchanges are moving into the fiat space. The Waves exchange now offers fiat gateways for Euro and US Dollar, albeit with a number of limitations.
The impact of expanding fiat trading into a large number of altcoins is certain to be substantial. It is likely to increase the overall market cap of the crypto space, and many platforms could see their value rise. Bitcoin, on the other hand, may very well suffer as it will no longer be needed for most trading, and it will no longer be the primary option for persons wishing to purchase crypto for the first time. Expanded fiat trading will also put increased pressure on governments to recognize crypto as legitimate assets.
These developments coincide with growing crypto interest by legacy financial firms and institutional investors. Exchanges understand that they are well positioned to benefit from the approaching surge of fiat capital into cryptocurrencies. They also understand that they will soon face substantial competition, and that they must grow and adapt as blockchain evolves.
Although altcoin-fiat trading pairs are a significant development, it is set to expand slowly, and there are no doubt many challenges, both regulatory and technical, that must be addressed. Bittrex has announced that only a small number of USD trading pairs will initially be available, and the expansion into others will take place gradually. Nevertheless, these bold leaps into the fiat space promise to radically alter how the public views and embraces blockchain assets.
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