What Is the Monaco (MCO) Cryptocurrency?

Monaco is a payment and cryptocurrency platform that rebranded itself as Crypto.com in 2018, trading under the symbol MCO on cryptocurrency exchanges. Crypto.com offers blockchain-backed debit cards and a mobile wallet app. Crypto.com has also announced a plan in late 2019 to launch its own crypto exchange that it anticipates will be live by the end of 2020.

Crypto.com is controversial. At its inception, it promised to integrate cryptocurrency and the fiat economy, but the company's lack of transparency and its under-performance on promised initiatives have given it a checkered reputation.

Key Takeaways

  • Monaco is a token for a blockchain-based payments application launched in 2017 that trades under the symbol MCO.
  • The company was originally also called Monaco, but it has rebranded itself as Crypto.com in 2018.
  • The company seeks to "put crypto in every wallet," though its business practices have come under criticism for lack of transparency and general shady dealings.

Understanding Monaco and Crypto.com

Crypto.com originally launched as Monaco in 2017 with its own cryptocurrency trading under the symbol MCO. As of September 2020, MCO is the 125th largest cryptocurrency by market cap, according to CoinMarketCap. Its price has fluctuated between an all-time high of $27.10 and an all-time low of $0.64. Crypto.com has also issued a second token, Crypto.com Coin (CRO) that is the 9th largest cryptocurrency by market cap and has traded between $0.011 and $0.18 as of September 2020.

Monaco's ICO of the Monaco token was conducted in mid-2017. The sale raised $26.7 million worth of Ether (ETH) at the time.

Roadmap for Monaco and Crypto.com

Monaco's whitepaper says the initiative was founded in 2016 "with the vision of cryptocurrency in every wallet." The founder Kris Marszalek is the former CEO of the Australia-based e-commerce site Ensogo who left the company under a cloud after it was forced to shut down its East Asia operations in June 2016.

Despite his trouble a year earlier, Marszalek created enough interest in his new crypto project to launch an ICO with aspirations to create a Visa card backed by cryptocurrency. The launch came just before the peak of the ICO bubble in late 2017, which provided enough cash to keep the project going until it was clear that it needed to rebrand.

In November of 2018, Crypto.com was launched with a new token, Crypto.com Chain (later renamed Coin) trading as CRO. According to the whitepaper cited above, the new company says "Crypto.com is redefining how money is being moved, spent and invested. We are powering the Future of Money. Today."

By the middle of 2019, Crypto.com launched its long-awaited debit and credit cards in Asia and the U.S., though reviews of the cards are mixed, and many users have complained that it is cumbersome to fund and use their cards.

Crypto.com Businesses Outside of Monaco

Crypto.com Cards

Crypto.com's offerings outside of MCO include cryptocurrency-backed Metal Visa cards that require varying amounts of MCO tokens to be held. The user’s cryptocurrency holdings essentially back his card.

All Monaco Visa cards come with zero annual fees, cashback schemes, and basic card features. Like the popular reward scheme available with any standard credit card, Monaco cards also offer a cashback scheme of up to 2 percent of crypto spending.

Crypto Invest

Crypto Invest is a roboadvisor-like service offered by Crypto.com that allows users to invest in one or many of several portfolios of cryptocurrencies that are traded "using quant strategies."

The service is not available to investors in the U.S., most likely for regulatory reasons. It's not clear what their quant strategies are, but they do give a breakdown of fund performance by portfolio on their homepage.

Crypto.com Wallet, Exchange, and Fundraising Platform

When the company was still Monaco, it launched its first successful product, a digital wallet. Currently, the wallet supports seven fiat and 53 cryptocurrencies. It promises to let you transfer crypto to other app users without fees, and it backs the MCO Visa credit card.

In November of 2019, Crypto.com announced an exchange and a fundraising platform. Marszalek said at the time, "In the next bull run, the companies that will surely thrive are those that manage to build an entire ecosystem." The exchange is available to U.S. residents, and it has offered promotions to users.

Criticisms of Crypto.com Products and Business

The company has been criticized for its slow rollout of products like its Visa card, its lack of transparency about what it does with invested funds, and its poor customer service.

Another substantive criticism of Monaco and Cypto.com Coin is that 95% of these coins are held by the team, making it easy to manipulate by insiders.

Cypto.com has also used the questionable practice of airdropping coins into its customer's wallets. MCO holders were incentivized to adopt CRO through an airdrop that required holders to keep their MCO locked up from December 2018 through December 2019 in order to receive the airdrop, and the drop itself was scheduled to pay out with 60 sequential payments over 5 years. Clearly, these methods are intended to keep investors in "the ecosystem" rather than cashing out and possibly precipitating a collapse of the scheme.