The ongoing discourse over digital currencies tends to focus on two groups—the retail traders who bet on the market and make it big, or the institutional investors who represent a legitimization of the once-fringe notion of cryptocurrency.notion of cryptocurrency. But there is one crucial sector of the US economy that is often overlooked in the digital currency debate—small businesses.
Small businesses deal with many issues. Most operate on razor-thin margins, with cash flow issues that leave employees and owners vulnerable to economic fluctuations. They also have less leverage with financial institutions than large companies—they pay higher merchant fees to credit card companies and are less likely to secure loans. All these issues could be significantly improved by faster, more cost-effective digital payment systems.
These businesses are unlikely to want to risk it all on the more volatile speculative cryptocurrencies. Instead, stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), which have a fixed fiat value, can be used. Digital asset payment systems are fast and efficient compared to existing systems such as SWIFT, especially when it comes to cross-border payments. These can be critical to the kind of family-run business favored by immigrants, who may have suppliers in another country or send remittances abroad. These are a traditional way for minorities to achieve upward social mobility and inclusion and are a vital part of communities all over the country.
The recent pandemic and accompanying disruption of global payment and supply chains pressed small businesses the most, and communities realized just how vulnerable their cafes, dry cleaners, plumbers, etc., were in the face of payment delays. A stable digital currency, backed and guaranteed by the government, could greatly benefit small businesses the most in terms of lower costs and easier access to funds. They shouldn’t be left out of the discussion.
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