On Monday, the payment processing startup Flexa announced the release of its new custodial crypto wallet SPEDN, which allows users to spend bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash or GUSD at a variety of brick-and-mortar retailers.
Although the merchants receive fiat in the end, the partnership enables new possibilities for people looking to spend crypto as easily as they might use Apple Pay.
Flexa co-founder Trevor Filter told CoinDesk the wallet app works at Nordstrom, Barnes & Noble, Express, Lowe’s, GameStop, Office Depot, Regal Cinemas and Jamba Juice, just to name a few. None of the merchants responded to requests for comment, but CoinDesk was able to confirm the deals.
Sarah Olsen, head of business development at Gemini, told CoinDesk the exchange company is partnering to provide security for the custodial wallet. In return, the app now provides a new way for stablecoin users to use GUSD beyond trading.
“Whether that’s a foreigner who’s coming to the U.S. and more easily able to participate in our economy or vice versa,” Olsen said, adding:
“The Flexa network is going to be open source so if you’re a merchant anywhere you can integrate to use their network, even without necessarily interacting with the Flexa team directly. This is going to be the first step toward the future of how we transact value.”
Indeed, Flexa co-founder Tyler Spalding told CoinDesk the ability to spend cryptocurrency can actually boost its function as a store of value.
“You need the other ecosystem to exist,” Spalding said of bitcoin’s value being tied to utility that includes, but isn’t limited to, trading.
Plus, users don’t need to have a credit card or bank account to use this mobile app. A 2017 study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found that 8.4 million American households were unbanked. Filter said that the eventual goal is to bring buyers and sellers closer together with a digitally native payments system. For now, Flexa’s crypto exchange partnerships manage conversion on the backend.
“We’re actually building payment rails on top of cryptocurrency instead of just trying to integrate cryptocurrency into the payment rails that already exist,” Filter said.
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