Coinme and CiNKO Team Up to Boost Digital Asset Adoption

Coinme and CiNKO Team Up to Boost Digital Asset Adoption
  • Cash exchange network Coinme has partnered with digital payments platform CiNKO.
  • The collaboration will enable Coinme customers to send funds to CiNKO wallets and cash out at participating MoneyGram locations in Latin America.
  • Seattle, Washington-based Coinme made its Finovate debut at FinovateSpring 2022.

A collaboration between digital payments platform CiNKO and cryptocurrency cash exchange Coinme is designed to boost access to digital assets for millions around the world. Courtesy of the partnership, Coinme customers will be able to send funds to CiNKO wallets and pick up cash from participating MoneyGram outlets in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Our collaboration with Coinme represents a pivotal step towards advancing financial inclusion and democratizing cryptocurrency access,” CiNKO Co-founder and CEO Richard Douglas said. “By leveraging our platforms, we aim to establish a more accessible, secure, and cost-effective ecosystem for users globally.”

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Costa Rica, CiNKO innovates at the intersection of decentralized blockchains and inexpensive mobile technology to help provide banking and payment services to the unbanked and underbanked. The company offers a digital payments platform that enables cross-border transfers, payout distributions, and payment processing via traditional rails, stablecoins, and more. Available in 44 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the company boasts low fees, including no administrative or processing fees.

“Coinme is proud to be aligned with CiNKO in a vision that both companies share,” Coinme Co-founder and CEO Neil Bergquist said. “Our mission is to provide more individuals around the world with access to a better financial future via cryptocurrency. This partnership serves that mission and the millions of people who benefit from trusted access to cryptocurrencies.”

Coinme made its Finovate debut at FinovateSpring 2022 in San Francisco, California. At the conference, the company demoed its Embedded Crypto Finance solution, a crypto-as-a-service offering that “crypto-enables” fintechs and financial institutions, allowing them to add digital asset transaction and storage functionality to their platforms. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and founded in 2014, Coinme powers the world’s largest cash exchange, with more than 40,000 brick and mortar locations to facilitate instant transfers from cash to crypto and from crypto to cash.

Last month, Coinme introduced its latest cash-to-crypto experience. In addition to announcing new automatic fulfullment functionality via Coinme’s partnership with Coinstar, the company also announced higher purchasing limits. Users can now buy up to $9,500 in crypto daily and $60,000 in crypto monthly for cash transactions. Also in March, Coinme announced a major expansion of its cash network, adding 22,000+ ATMs to facilitate instant cash outs.

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MoneyGram to Launch Non-Custodial Digital Wallet

MoneyGram to Launch Non-Custodial Digital Wallet
  • MoneyGram is launching a non-custodial digital wallet.
  • The wallet will help users move funds from fiat to digital currency and back again.
  • MoneyGram is leveraging the Stellar Development Foundation’s open-source public blockchain Stellar for the launch.

When you think of the top crypto players in fintech, MoneyGram may not come to mind. However, the 83-year-old company continues to position itself at the forefront of the crypto space. As evidence of this, MoneyGram unveiled its non-custodial digital wallet today.

MoneyGram will launch the non-custodial digital wallet in the first quarter of next year. The wallet will help MoneyGram users leverage stablecoins to move funds from fiat to digital currency and back again. The new wallet will effectively serve as a bridge between international money transfers and blockchain payments.

With the non-custodial digital wallet, users will be able to cash out their digital asset holdings at physical MoneyGram locations, making their funds more liquid than before. The wallet, which will leverage MoneyGram’s compliance screening capabilities, will also offer account-to-account money transfers, allowing users to send digital assets to other users in the wallet.

The wallet leverages MoneyGram’s partnership with the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), the organization behind open-source public blockchain Stellar that allows money to be tokenized and transferred globally. MoneyGram and SDF originally partnered in October of last year, when the two piloted the cash-to-crypto functionality.

“Through the services we provide in partnership with SDF, MoneyGram has made strides to create equitable access to the global financial system, having become the single largest fiat on and off-ramp provider offering blockchain access worldwide,” said MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes.

The “non-custodial” element of MoneyGram’s wallet is notable because it will offer users control over their own private keys, which can offer more security. And because users don’t rely on a third party to manage their funds, they are less dependent on centralized institutions, which makes the wallet more decentralized, and ultimately offers a higher level of anonymity because they don’t need to provide personal information when creating or using the wallet.

After its launch, MoneyGram’s non-custodial digital wallet will be fee-free until June of 2024. The company also notes plans to expand the wallet’s capabilities with new features next year.

MoneyGram first launched its fiat on-and-off-ramp service for digital wallets in 2022 and has since expanded the service to eight digital wallets on the Stellar blockchain. Today, consumers can cash-out in 180+ countries and cash-in in 30+ countries around the world. 

Photo by Jonathan Borba

5 Tales from the Crypto: MoneyGram Partners with Coinme, Paxos Earns License in Singapore

5 Tales from the Crypto: MoneyGram Partners with Coinme, Paxos Earns License in Singapore

MoneyGram Lets U.S. Customers Go Crypto

MoneyGram is enabling its customers in (nearly all of) the U.S. to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies via their MoneyGram apps. Three cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC) – are the digital assets available courtesy of the new service. MoneyGram expected to offer other cryptocurrencies in 2023.

“Cryptocurrencies are additive to everything we’re doing at MoneyGram,” Chairman and CEO Alex Holmes said. “From dollars to euros to yen and so on, MoneyGram enables instant access to over 120 currencies around the globe, and we see crypto and digital currencies as another input and output option.”

The new service is made possible thanks to MoneyGram’s partnership with licensed crypto exchange, crypto-as-a-service provider, and new Finovate alum Coinme. The company’s alliance with Coinme extends back to 2021, when the two firms teamed up to expand access to cryptocurrencies by establishing thousands of U.S. locations where consumers can use cash to buy and sell bitcoin.

Coinme demoed its crypto-as-a-service solution at FinovateSpring earlier this year. MoneyGram made a “strategic investment” in the Seattle, Washington-based company in January. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

Revolut Enables Crypto Spending for Debit Card Holders

MoneyGram isn’t the only company busy making it easier for its customers to participate in the cryptocurrency market. Revolut debit card customers in both the U.K. and Switzerland will now be able to alternate between crypto and fiat purchases both online and offline.

“This year we have not only increased the number of cryptocurrencies available in the Revolut app to close to 100 tokens and launched Crypto Learn & Earn education courses enjoyed by millions of our customers,” Revolut crypto general manager Emil Urmanshin said. “Now we are making crypto even more mainstream by empowering people to use crypto-enabled cards to spend their tokens for everyday purchases.”

To enable the capability in the Revolut app, customers open the Cards section and select one of their existing physical or virtual cards. Customers then enter the card’s settings function and changes the setting from fiat to one of the nearly 100 supported cryptocurrencies. Once linked, a crypto-enabled card will process the transaction using the preferred digital asset. Revolut’s crypto-enabled cards will offer a 1% cashback on all purchases for a promotional period. Customers are also able to order a dedicated virtual or physical card specifically for crypto payments.

About That Blockchain … Lex Fridman Interviews Balaji Srinivasan

If you’re looking for something to listen to while on your drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco (and halfway back), then this 7+ hour discussion between Lex Fridman and former Coinbase CTO – and current angel investor – Balaji Srinivasan may be just what you’re looking for!

Failing that, skip ahead to 6:40:42 or so in this extended interview to listen to Srinivasan talk about the present and future of cryptocurrencies, AI, AR, and VR.

Blockchain Platform Paxos Gets Green Light in Singapore

Blockchain infrastructure platform Paxos secured a license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore this week. The license will enable the company to offer digital payment token services to companies based in Singapore. The license – made possible courtesy of the Payment Services Act of 2019 – also makes Paxos the first U.S.-based blockchain infrastructure platform to earn regulatory approval in both New York and Singapore.

Paxos Asia CEO and co-founder Rich Teo underscored the company’s commitment to “innovating within regulatory frameworks”. Teo said, “We believe blockchain and digital assets will revolutionize finance for everyone around the world, but development of this technology must have clear oversight and consumer protections.”

Paxos offers tokenization, custody, trading, and settlement of digital assets. The company builds enterprise blockchain solutions for financial institutions such as PayPal, Nubank, and Bank of America. Paxos launched the first regulated cryptocurrency exchange, itBit, in 2012. The company issued the world’s first regulated stablecoin, PAX (now known as USDP) in 2018.

Eswatini’s Central Bank to Explore CBDCs

Did you know that the country formerly called Swaziland is now “Eswatini”? If not, then consider this news that the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) has teamed up with Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) to research development of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), a twofer.

Located in southern Africa and bordered by Mozambique and South Africa, the Kingdom of Eswatini is one of a number of developing economies that has expressed interest in CBDCs in recent years. The country’s central bank inked an agreement with G+D this week that calls for research into the practicality of developing and implementing a CBDC in the country. The CBE will also explore the possibility of issuing digital Lilangeni to complement the country’s banknotes and coins, the dominant forms of payment among the nation of 1.2 million people.

The relationship between the bank and Munich, Germany-based G+D extends back to a time before cryptocurrencies were a significant part of the fintech conversation. G+D Currency Technology CEO Dr. Wolfram Seidemann highlighted the “long history of trusted collaboration” – of more than 40 years – between the Central Bank of Eswatini and Giesecke+Devrient. “The Kingdom of Eswatini is among the first African countries to take the step towards a retail CBDC and we are honored to support this journey towards digital public currency with our expertise,” Seidemann said.

Photo by Garrett Morrow

MoneyGram Launches Crypto-to-Cash Service

MoneyGram Launches Crypto-to-Cash Service
  • MoneyGram is rolling out a service that will enable users to buy cryptocurrency using cash, as well as allow them to withdraw their crypto holdings in cash, at select MoneyGram locations.
  • The new capabilities are made possible via a partnership with Stellar Development Foundation.
  • The service is currently available in the U.S., Canada, Kenya, and the Philippines.

While Western Union is taking payments digital, its competitor MoneyGram is bringing them into crypto. MoneyGram announced today it has begun to roll out a service that will enable cash users to access cryptocurrency via participating MoneyGram locations.

The new service is the result of a partnership between MoneyGram and the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), the organization behind open-source public blockchain Stellar that allows money to be tokenized and transferred globally. MoneyGram and SDF originally partnered in October of last year, when the two piloted the functionality that enabled digital wallet holders to deposit cash into their digital wallets at MoneyGram locations, send payments internationally via Stellar, and exchange Stellar for cash currency.

The functionality of exchanging cash to cryptocurrency and back to cash again aims to offer unbanked populations access to the digital economy. The fund transfer capabilities don’t require a bank account or a credit card. Consumers that hold a digital wallet with Vibrant or LOBSTR can visit a participating MoneyGram location to load their digital wallets using cash or to cash out their digital currency holdings into cash. MoneyGram expects to collaborate with more digital wallets in the future.

To incentivize adoption of the crypto in/out feature among its 150 million customers, MoneyGram is not charging a fee for the service for the first year.

“A much-needed solution to the cash-to-crypto on/off-ramp problem is here,” said Stellar Development Foundation CEO and Executive Director Denelle Dixon. “Today, almost 2 billion people rely on cash for their livelihood, with no options to access the digital economy. At the same time, a persistent pain point for crypto-native users is off-ramping cryptocurrency quickly and reliably. The groundbreaking nature of this service is how it solves problems for a range of users with varying needs around the world.”

The service is currently available in the U.S., Canada, Kenya, and the Philippines. By the end of this month, global cash-in functionality will be available in seven more countries and cash-out functionality will be available globally (where permitted by law).

MoneyGram, an 82-year-old fintech, was acquired by private equity investment firm Madison Dearborn Partners in a $1.8 billion deal earlier this year. Alex Holmes is chairman and CEO.


Fintech Merger and Acquisition Activity Starts Strong in Q1 2022

Fintech Merger and Acquisition Activity Starts Strong in Q1 2022

While 2021 was a record year for fintech merger and acquisition (M&A) activity, 2022 is off to a great start.

According to FT Partners, there were 1,485 M&A deals in the fintech space totaling $348.5 billion in 2021. As Square’s $29 billion takeover of Afterpay demonstrated, last year’s massive volume is partially thanks to multiple large deals.

This quarter, only eight of the 21 deals initiated disclosed financial details. Of those, the deal volume added up to almost $5 billion.




While experts predict that 2022 M&A activity will likely see momentum from 2021, there are two aspects to watch out for this year. First, we will not see as many SPACs as we saw last year. This may decrease the number of companies choosing to exit this year. Second, fintech valuations are deflating after experiencing huge rises over the course of the past two years. While the loss in value won’t directly impact the number of M&A deals, it will decrease the deal volume.

Photo by Martin Lopez

Madison Dearborn Buys MoneyGram in $1.8 Billion Deal

Madison Dearborn Buys MoneyGram in $1.8 Billion Deal
  • Madison Dearborn Partners has agreed to acquire MoneyGram in a $1.8 billion deal.
  • The deal will offer shareholders $11 per share and will make MoneyGram a privately-held company.
  • MoneyGram anticipates the acquisition will help it advance digital growth and compete against smaller fintechs.

MoneyGram, an 82-year-old fintech, announced today it has agreed to be acquired by private equity investment firm Madison Dearborn Partners (MDP) in a $1.8 billion deal. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

When the deal closes, MoneyGram shareholders will receive $11 per share. In addition, MoneyGram, which is currently listed publicly on the NASDAQ under the ticker MGI, will no longer be listed on a public exchange. Logistically, MoneyGram will continue to operate under its own brand. Company CEO Alex Holmes and the existing leadership team will continue to lead MoneyGram from the company’s headquarters in Dallas, Texas to continue to serve its 150 million customers.

Holmes anticipates the deal will not only deliver value to shareholders, but will also help MoneyGram as it seeks to advance its digital growth. “MoneyGram has undergone a rapid transformation over the last several years to expand our digital capabilities and adapt to the evolving needs of our customers. By partnering with MDP and becoming a private company, we will have greater opportunities to innovate and transform MoneyGram to lead the industry in cross-border payment technology and deliver a more expansive set of digital offerings, while leveraging our global platform for new customers and use cases.”

The move will place MoneyGram in a better position to compete with the onslaught of fintechs in the cross-border payments arena. And in today’s increasingly decentralized economy, this competition goes beyond cross-border payments companies of the last decade such as Azimo, Wise, Visa’s CurrencyCloud, and Payoneer. Looking ahead, MoneyGram will need to deepen its crypto roots.

The Dallas-based company dipped its toe in the crypto waters in 2018 when it initiated a partnership with Ripple to leverage xRapid for remittance payments. And last fall, MoneyGram began collaborating with Stellar to enable consumers using Circle’s USDC stablecoin to receive cash funding and payout in local currency.

“We are looking forward to applying our substantial experience growing digital businesses and deep payments knowledge to help MoneyGram further strengthen its market-leading cross-border capabilities and enhance its digital platform,” said MDP’s Managing Director Vahe Dombalagian.

Photo by Pratikxox from Pexels

MoneyGram Makes Strategic Investment in Cryptocurrency Cash Exchange

MoneyGram Makes Strategic Investment in Cryptocurrency Cash Exchange

Pre-digital P2P payments and remittance player MoneyGram made a strategic investment in cryptocurrency cash exchange company Coinme this week.

The amount of MoneyGram’s strategic investment in Coinme was undisclosed, but it gives the firm a 4% stake in the Seattle-based company. As a result, MoneyGram now holds direct ownership in Coinme.

“At MoneyGram, we continue to be bullish on the vast opportunities that exist in the ever-growing world of cryptocurrency and our ability to operate as a compliant bridge to connect digital assets to local fiat currency. Our investment in Coinme further strengthens our partnership and compliments our shared vision to expand access to digital assets and cryptocurrencies,” said MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes.

The two companies originally teamed up last year to offer a crypto-to-cash product that combined MoneyGram’s mobile payments platform and Coinme’s cryptocurrency exchange and custody technology. The new product allows customers to purchase bitcoin with cash and withdraw bitcoin holdings in cash at thousands of physical point-of-sale locations.

“Our unique cash-to-bitcoin offering with Coinme, announced in May of 2021, opened our business to an entirely new customer segment, and we couldn’t be more pleased with our progress. As we accelerate our innovation efforts, partnerships with startups like Coinme will further our position as the industry leader in the utilization of blockchain and similar technologies,” Holmes added.

And while last year’s partnership between the two was limited to U.S.-based point of sale locations, Coinme CEO Neil Bergquist unveiled plans for a global launch. “We see this as an incredible opportunity to continue our strong growth and build on our leading presence in the world of crypto,” said Bergquist. “With MoneyGram’s global network and infrastructure, both [MoneyGram’s] continued partnership and strategic investment will help us accelerate our growth and international expansion.”

Coinme offers two cash-to-crypto products that enable users to purchase cryptocurrencies using cash at MoneyGram and Coinstar locations in 48 U.S. states. Since the company was founded in 2014, it has raised $19 million.

Last October, MoneyGram partnered with the Stellar Development Foundation and Circle to enable consumers using Circle’s USDC stablecoin to receive cash funding and payout in local currency. MoneyGram was founded in 1940 and is currently listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker MGI with a market capitalization of $692 million.

Photo by Caleb Oquendo from Pexels

Stellar and Circle Help MoneyGram Tap the Power of Digital Assets

Stellar and Circle Help MoneyGram Tap the Power of Digital Assets

MoneyGram, a pre-digital P2P payments player, announced a collaboration this week that will send funds faster and offer consumers more options.

The Texas-based money transfer company is partnering with Stellar Development Foundation, a non-profit that supports the development and growth of the Stellar blockchain network, and Circle, an online platform that enables users to send money. The partnerships will enable consumers using Circle’s USDC stablecoin to receive cash funding and payout in local currency, and will facilitate near-instant backend settlement.

As Stellar Development Foundation CEO Denelle Dixon explained, the partnership combines the reach of MoneyGram’s services with the speed and low cost of transactions on Stellar. As a result, “a new segment of cash users will be able to convert their cash into and out of USDC, giving them access to fast and affordable digital asset services that may have previously been out of reach,” Dixon said.

Once the partnership goes live, end consumers will be able to use MoneyGram to convert USDC to cash, or cash to USDC. United Texas Bank will serve as a settlement bank between Circle and MoneyGram. Thanks to Circle’s USDC, consumers will also see their funds settle in near-real-time, resulting in accelerated money movement, improved efficiency, and reduced risk.

“At MoneyGram, one of our top strategic priorities is to pioneer cross-border payment innovation and blockchain-enabled settlement, and we’re thrilled to now work with the Stellar Development Foundation to further our efforts,” said MoneyGram Chairman and CEO Alex Holmes. “As crypto and digital currencies rise in prominence, we’re especially optimistic about the potential of stablecoins as a method to streamline cross-border payments. Given our expertise in global payments, blockchain, and compliance, we are extremely well-positioned to continue to be the leader in building bridges to connect digital currencies with local fiat currencies.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen MoneyGram using blockchain technology. The money transfer giant partnered with Ripple in 2019 to leverage XRP for cross-border payment and foreign exchange settlement. That partnership has since ended, but MoneyGram has gone on to initiate other partnerships that provide broad consumer access to digital currencies.

Photo by Universal Eye on Unsplash

Money Laundering Creates Problems for Stored-value Cards


The U.S. Treasury’s U.S. Money Laundering Threat Assessment, published last December, says that many types of stored-value cards have the potential to become major avenues for money laundering, suggesting—although not saying explicitly—that stringent anti-money laundering regulations are in the offing for the card products.

Industry groups are preparing what amount to pre-emptive negotiations to keep the issue off the floor of Congress, hopefully minimizing potential regulations that could, in the view of many in the industry, cripple the business case for what bankers and other payments executives consider several promising new revenue streams. But prepaid-card executives are declining to speak publicly about the issue, hoping to keep public discussion about stored-valued cards “positive.”

Continue reading “Money Laundering Creates Problems for Stored-value Cards”

Western Union Spin Off May Do Little for First Data

Last week’s news that First Data Corp. will spin off its Western Union operations to First Data shareholders and create a company worth an estimated $20 billion is probably good news for Western Union. Noting that the parent company will be keeping its card processing, card services, and international business lines, observers were asking what had otherwise changed.

The answer: Nothing. “The bottom line for me is that this doesn’t change the realities, which are that even though they’re going to reconstitute what First Data will be, it doesn’t change the facts that Western Union, while it’s a good business, is facing increasing competition around the world, that the card business is struggling mightily, and that merchant processing is a commoditized business,” says Scott Kessler, who follows First Data for Standard & Poor’s.

Continue reading “Western Union Spin Off May Do Little for First Data”