Imagine being able to delete the glitchy banking and credit card apps off your phone and manage your investments, payments, and remittances all within one app. This is the future of global finance, and it’s almost blindingly bright. Mycelium wallet has been hands-down the best mobile Bitcoin wallet for quite some time. The UI isn’t very flashy, and it might seem a bit complicated for someone who’s never used a real Bitcoin wallet (not Coinbase), but it’s continued to hold the throne. Other wallets like Copay have created simpler, prettier apps that work cross-platform and offer useful features like easy multi-sig, but they’ve struggled to gain widespread use. Unfortunately for wallet developers, it’s going to become a lot harder to compete because Mycelium is about to upgrade in a big way.
Mycelium first gained widespread recognition in the Bitcoin community with their psychedelic, Alice in Wonderland themed commercial released in 2014. Coincidentally (or not. “you decide” as Mycelium states in a Youtube comment), the commercial features a bursting bubble towards the end. For those who were following the price of Bitcoin back then, this reference is quite ironic. Watch below:
The company has come a long way since then. Their wallet is one of the highest rated and most downloaded on the Play Store, and it’s frequently recommended to those getting into Bitcoin for the first time. Over the past 6 months, the developers have been hard at work improving the app and have occasionally dropped hints on Reddit about upcoming changes. Until today, though, no one knew just how incredible these changes will be.
Mycelium intends to dramatically broaden the functionality of their software. Up until now, the wallet has allowed for fairly basic Bitcoin payments and decentralized exchange à la Local Bitcoins. With the upcoming upgrade, due to be released autumn of 2016, Mycelium will expand into a full-fledged crypto finance suite. They’ve detailed the following major improvements on their site:
1] Fiat accounts: fully fledged, blockchain based.
2] Inexpensive remittance: most popular corridors.
3] Debit cards. Wallet-linked and in-wallet-issued.
4] Personal finance: convenient handling of bills and invoices.
5] Investments: efficient portfolios and hedging.
6] Escrow-protected business transactions and bets.
7] Crypto assets creation and exchange.
Some of those features might not mean a lot to you if you haven’t delved very far into cryptocurrency and equity. Let me go over each one individually.
- Users will be able to store fiat balances (USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, CAD, CNY, etc) on-blockchain and without the need for a bank. This is game-changing and will likely supplant or integrate other attempts at storing fiat on-blockchain like Tether.
- Remittances are a huge industry for those working and/or living outside their home country. Western Union charges exorbitant fees to send money abroad. With the Blockchain, this can be done with virtually no cost to the user. Mycelium wants to make it convenient for people to remit money by adding the functionality right into their app. No longer will wily politicians have the power to stop remittances to suit their own agendas.
- One of the criticisms of Bitcoin is that you can’t spend it anywhere. While it’s true that a limited number of places accept cryptocurrency for payment, the amount of merchants who do expands every day. For those that don’t accept it, there’s always the work-around of having a debit card that can be topped up with Bitcoin and spent as USD or the equivalent.
- Today, spending Bitcoin is considered a taxable event in some countries like the United States. While I can’t recommend ignoring these laws, many feel that they’re too burdensome and don’t comply with them. Still, prudent consumers will need to manage their money, track their spending, and figure out what their taxes will be at the end of the year. Mycelium plans to integrate software similar to Mint to make it far easier to manage money.
- A huge problem in the cryptoequity space now is the lack of all-inclusive wallets. When an investor holds 25+ blockchain tokens, there’s rarely a single wallet than can hold all of them. This often leads to the dangerous practice of storing these tokens on an exchange. This creates counterparty risk and could result in the loss of funds should the exchange fail. By adding support for Colored Coins, Ethereum, dApps, and other tokens, Mycelium will bring control of money back to its users.
- Since Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency is decentralized, it eliminates the requirement of having a middleman to handle business transactions. Sometimes, though, it’s wise to have an unbiased third-party who can arbitrate disputes that might arise, basically what Ebay does for its users. Mycelium intends to put this functionality right into its wallet, eliminating the need for external escrow websites.
- Finally, should a new company, group, or individual wish to create their own crypto-asset they’ll be able to do it right in-app. There are a wide range of applications for custom assets such as gift cards for a retailer, shares in a new crowdfunded project, or simply as a collectible to exchange between friends.
Phew, that was a lot to cover in a short time. I encourage you to explore these concepts in greater detail if you’re interested in them. There are also a lot of other feature planned in the new version of Mycelium that I didn’t go over (e.g. encrypted messaging). Let’s be honest, though, you’re probably here because you’re looking for an exciting new investment.
The most exciting part about all of this work by Mycelium is that they’re going to hold a crowdsale and sell off a 5%, non-dilutable stake in their project. They’ll also be fully open-sourcing it to allow complete trust in what they’re doing. Since their software is free, you might be wondering how you’ll get a return on your investment. Luckily, Mycelium has ambitions to create a whole slew of monetized integrations with other companies via their upcoming API. They’re also releasing hardware and software for consumers and merchants. Those projects will definitely generate revenue if Mycelium’s success continues. You can read more about their plans on this official Reddit post.
Those who sign up for their “early bird special” before May 1, 2016 will get a 10% bonus on any shares purchased. The crowdsale will run from May 1 – May 18. If I’ve learned anything from past crowdsales, as long as the startup is trustworthy, which Mycelium definitely has been so far, they usually lead to a great return on investment. A perfect example is Ethereum. An investment of 1 BTC during their crowdsale (<$500) would have been worth approximately $20,000 a few weeks ago at the peak of its recent price rise.
Needless to say, Mycelium has a strong track record of innovation in the Bitcoin space, and their freshly announced plans are greatly building on that innovation. The release of their new software can’t come soon enough. Luckily, the crowdsale will create enough hype to tide us over until then. Check back for more.
*Disclaimer: The author of this article cannot guarantee the future price of Mycelium’s upcoming shares nor can he attest to the legality of crowdfunding in your country. Please read Mycelium’s official crowdsale terms before committing any money to their project.
*Official Mycelium Press Release (PDF Link)
*Mycelium logo found on Satoshi Labs