Uphold is potentially the most disruptive blockchain application around and it does not have a cryptocurrency.
Uphold is disruptive because it lacks its own cryptocurrency. Instead, Uphold claims to offer practically instantaneous conversions between Bitcoin (BTC) and a variety of fiat currencies.
Equally disruptive is Uphold’s capacity for sending bank transfers in the world’s four biggest fiat currencies the Euro, the US Dollar, the British Pound, and the Chinese Yuan. For example, you can instantly convert your Bitcoin into dollars and deposit those dollars in your US bank account–if Uphold works advertised.
Uphold lets you Buy Gold with Cryptocurrency
The ability to exchange Bitcoin for precious metals amplifies Uphold’s capacity for disruption For instance, it is possible to exchange Bitcoin (BTC) for gold, silver, and palladium with Uphold.
The economic havoc this capacity could wreak is vast. For example, if inflation starts in India, Uphold will give every citizen the ability to sell her Rupees for gold. That will be great for gold spectators and bad for India because it can trigger hyperinflation.
Hyperinflation occurs when the value of a fiat currency drops dramatically. Average people drive hyperinflation by frantically trying to convert worthless fiat currencies into something with value. In particular, people afflicted by hyperinflation buy precious metals and fiat currencies issued by Great Powers such as the US Dollar.
Uphold is capable of that level of disruption because it is already available as iOS and Android app. Therefore, anybody with a smartphone can download and use Uphold.
How Uphold can Destroy Fiat Currencies
Uphold has the potential to destroy fiat currencies because it offers fast conversion.
Uphold offers fast conversion of some very shaky fiat currencies. Its currency list includes the Danish Krone, Kenyan Shilling, Mexican Peso, Indian Rupee, Brazilian Real, Polish Zloty, and Philippine Peso.
Importantly, the list also contains some of the most stable currencies including the Swiss Franc, New Zealand Dollar, Australian Dollar, and Japanese Yen. Therefore, anybody could use Uphold to his or her money into gold or Swiss Francs.
For example, if Mexico’s president announces currency devaluation every Mexican with a smartphone can convert her pesos to dollars. Affluent Mexicans can buy Swiss Francs or gold if they wish.
How Uphold can destroy a fiat currency
An obvious effect of apps like Uphold will be to make questionable smaller fiat currencies irrelevant. Will merchants in countries like Denmark take the local currency if everybody can convert Krone to Euro?
Denmark’s government can pass a law making it illegal to use Euros. Would Danish police arrest the corner storekeeper and grandmothers for using Euros? I guess they would not. A likely outcome of a currency crisis in a nation like Denmark is parliament meeting at midnight and adopting the Euro to prevent total economic collapse.
Will governments try to shut off Wi-Fi service or the Internet or block access to apps to prevent conversion? Historically, many governments have tried to limit access to foreign currencies.
Corrupt officials have an incentive to limit access to foreign currencies because they make money off currency conversion. Corrupt officials in Venezuela buy U.S. dollars at artificial exchange rates, for example. Meanwhile, average Venezuelans have to use the nation’s worthless currency the Bolivar.
Have the Cryptocurrency Wars Begun?
I predict that at least one government will try to block internet access or ban apps to protect the currency during the next few years. Central Banks in India and China have tried to ban cryptocurrency.
Venezuelan police cracked down on cryptocurrency by raiding Bitcoin miners. The crackdown was so ineffective; Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro is now trying to create a national cryptocurrency called the Petro.
Interestingly, Maduro was recently the target of a sensational drone assassination attempt on 4 August 2018. However, it is unclear if something links the attempt to Maduro’s cryptocurrency efforts. Future historians may enshrine Maduro as the first casualty of the Cryptocurrency Wars.
Uphold Magnifies Cryptocurrency’s Disruptive Potential
Uphold magnifies cryptocurrency’s disruptive potential because it converts eight of the most popular altcoins. Currently; Uphold offers free conversions for Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Gold (BTG), Dash (DASH), the Basic Attention Token (BAT), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin (BTC).
That will encourage cryptocurrency use if Uphold’s claims of fast cryptocurrency conversion are true. Ethereum conversion is highly disruptive because all the popular ERC20 cryptocurrencies are Ethereum-convertible. ERC20s are disruptive because most of the commercial blockchain platforms under construction utilize Ethereum and ERC20 tokens.
Obviously some popular and highly disruptive altcoins are missing from Uphold’s conversion list. Adding such altcoins as Bancor (BNT), EOS (EOS), Quantum (QTUM), and Neo (NEO) will magnify Uphold’s capacity for disruption.
So what is Uphold Anyway?
Uphold is an open application programming interface (API). Simply put, an API is a software interface that lets two applications talk to each other.
For example, Uphold’s API allows Ethereum’s blockchain to “talk” to bank platforms. Therefore, Upholds Android app allows you to convert ETH into dollars you can deposit in your checking account.
The idea is simple but disruptive and super destructive. Importantly, software development kits (SDKs) for Uphold’s API are available in several popular programming languages.
A software development kit is a tool kit that enables a programmer to build Uphold’s API into programs. For example, Apple’s programmers can build Uphold into Apple Pay if Tim Cook desires.
Uphold is the creation of a company called Uphold Inc. Uphold operates the Uphold platform that supports Uphold’s apps.
Is Uphold a bank?
Uphold does not call itself a bank, but it sure looks like one. I think Uphold looks like a bank because it publicly lists its assets.
On September 20, 2018, those assets comprised $118.787 million in reserve. Those assets slightly exceed Uphold’s obligations of $119.786 million which means Uphold is breaking even.
Uphold claimed to have $35.70 million reserve bank transfers, $4.265 million in fiat currency assets available for hold, exchange or sending, and $79.334 million in total assets in reserve on 20 September 2018.
More importantly, Uphold claims to have conducted 9.555 million transactions worth $3.89 billion. The potential for growth is great because Uphold’s API can covert 35 currencies and supposedly operates in 180 countries.
These Apps magnify Uphold’s Disruptive Capability
Uphold is working with several potentially disruptive apps including Bitwage, BitMari and Heleum.
Bitwage for instance, is highly disruptive because allows organizations to pay employees anywhere on Earth from a US bank account. Therefore, international payroll is possible. For example, an American oil company can pay employees in Colombia with Pesos from a bank account in Houston.
BitMari and a solution called Uphold connect, will allow you to invest in commercial farms in Africa. Bitmari is highly disruptive because it allows anybody to engage in microlending and microfinance.
Heleum makes international money transfer easy by letting anybody move currencies in and out of “balloons.” If it works Heleum can tap some huge markets including remittances. Remittances are payments send to people in other countries. Remittances are lucrative because the World Bank estimates individuals sent $613 billion worth of remittances in 2017.
Why Speculators should Watch Uphold
Speculators need to pay close attention to Uphold because its solutions can greatly increase the demand for cryptocurrencies. Uphold is disruptive because they do not wed it to one cryptocurrency.
For example, if Argentina’s government bans Bitcoin (BTC), Argentines can use Uphold to buy Ripple (XRP). Therefore, being added to Uphold will increase an altcoin’s potential value.
Uphold is not a cryptocurrency, but it shows cryptocurrency’s potential to destroy the financial system as we know it. Technologies like Uphold will destroy fiat currency and banking as we know if they become widely used.
Note this story changed slightly from the original version because I updated some numbers and added a better headline.