Cosmose AI is ditching payment provider Stripe for Ethereum competitor Near Protocol.
The move comes as the Singapore-based AI-driven in-store foot traffic analytics company raised its valuation to $500 million thanks to a strategic investment from Near Protocol's non-profit arm Near Foundation.
Near Foundation's exact investment figure remains undisclosed. Cosmose AI's $15 million Series A funding in 2020 valued it at $100 million.
Cosmose AI and Near will work together to build a payment system that facilitates users to shop with crypto at low transaction fees, benefiting both buyers and sellers.
The nine-year-old AI firm has a suite of retail solutions including KaiKai - an app that allows customers to discover nearby retail stores - as well as an online targeting platform. Both will utilise web3 technology.
"Through the partnership with NEAR Foundation, Cosmose Media and KaiKai, the two Cosmose AI’s products, will advance Web3-driven innovations," Cosmose AI said in a press release.
"KaiKai has been successfully leveraging NEAR Protocol through the creation of its own cryptocurrency utilised for payments, cash-back and rewards: Kai-Ching."
Kai-Ching is KaiKai's native stablecoin, which runs on Near's network. The app allows users to top up Kai-Ching, which is pegged to the US dollar, with fiat and back again.
Miron Mironiuk, the company’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that the firm was looking to make online payments more efficient.
“I’m not sure if you know how expensive and slow it is to process online payments. It’s absolutely crazy,” he said, stating how Stripe and PayPal charge 10% for small transactions, forcing the seller to increase prices, which the buyer will ultimately incur.
With the example of a $5 coffee, Mironiuk said coffee drinkers could be spending $200 extra a year due to intermediaries such as Stripe. Near-powered KaiKai will reduce these annual costs to just $4.
“Imagine how much you could save if all payments are moved to the blockchain,” said Mironiuk.
Last month, Near announced the Blockchain Operating System (BOS), introducing an industry-first category: a common layer for browsing and discovering open web experiences, compatible with all blockchains – making NEAR the entry point to the open web for users and developers alike.
Read more: NEAR Boosts Web3 Composability With "Blockchain Operating System"
Near Protocol also announced a strategic partnership in March with Metabora Singapore (SG), a Web3 gaming initiative affiliate of Kakao Games, South Korea's biggest multi-platform gaming company.
The two partners plan to jointly develop global sports IP-based Web3 games, as well as increase brand awareness, invest in research and collaboration on cross-chain liquidity enhancement, host events, and generate Web3 business collaboration opportunities in Korea and worldwide.
Read more: Near, Metabora SG Partner for IP-Based Game Development
Success in Singapore
KaiKai launched in Singapore in September and has processed over 1 million transactions. One-third of transactions are paid with Kai-Ching.
Mironiuk highlighted how over half of Kai-Ching's users are Gen Z who are "super comfortable" with crypto.
Its success comes at a time when Singapore remains stringent on crypto regulation.
Most recently, a judge from the city-state concluded that crypto is not money and rejected the premise that fiat debt procedures apply to crypto.
Read more: Is Crypto Actually Money? Singapore Judge Says No
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