What are Crypto Cards and their phenomenal rise in 2019

For many who want to get into crypto, getting in used to be a lot of trouble. Even after all the trouble of acquiring such digital assets, spending it used to be another nightmare. Merchants, for the most part, aren’t […]

Abishek Dharshan

Abishek Dharshan

July 23, 2019 3:42 AM

What are Crypto Cards and their phenomenal rise in 2019

For many who want to get into crypto, getting in used to be a lot of trouble. Even after all the trouble of acquiring such digital assets, spending it used to be another nightmare. Merchants, for the most part, aren’t ready to accept payments for everyday items and services in crypto, volatility, transaction time, plus investment and time needed to set up new forms of payment. That is where the crypto debit card comes in. It lets users spend their crypto in shops which accept Visa and Mastercard while the shopkeeper receives fiat money in their account. A kind of middle ground

The Litecoin foundation releases a debit card. 

In the past, it used to be crypto exchanges that were launching crypto debit cards. Recently, the Litecoin Foundation has teamed up with Bibox Exchange and the blockchain firm Ternio to roll out its own crypto debit card. Litecoin foundation is a nonprofit organization whose aim is to promote and advance blockchain technology. Bibox exchange will act as the custodian of customer funds. Initially, the service will only be available to US customers. Customers can use the card called the “Blockcard”, for both in-house as well as online stores. Litecoin creator and managing director of the Litecoin Foundation, Charlie Lee was later quoted, 

“This is an exciting partnership for us as it furthers the Litecoin Foundation’s mission to create more use cases for spending Litecoin in everyday life. Leveraging Ternio’s BlockCard platform with Bibox’s exchange engine gives Litecoin holders unparalleled access to use their LTC at merchants around the world.”

Coinbase card extended to more countries

Coinbase has already rolled out the debit card feature for its UK customers previously. On June 11th, the exchange extended its debit card to six more European countries. Customers in Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands will be able to sync the cards to their Coinbase accounts to spend their cryptocurrencies at any merchant that accepts Visa cards. The card can be used in two formats, one offering is an Android or IOS app which can be used as a debit card, and the second option is a physical card, that can be used to make withdrawals from a crypto ATM. These features will further ease the use of crypto for the common people. The card also supports multiple coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. The app can also be used to choose which crypto wallets are used when spending while spending crypto at a merchant. The crypto gets converted to fiat immediately, for which Coinbase charges a fee

Ex-visa exec heads a crypto startup

Both Visa and Mastercard have a lukewarm approach towards crypto. Sometimes these companies have been hostile towards digital assets. Once these card giants reclassified crypto purchases as cash advances instead of purchase, this resulted in customers paying more. But some of the company’s previous executives are more into crypto, like Steven Parker who now heads Crypterium. Crypterium is a company based in Estonia, and on June 12th started offering customers with prepaid crypto debit card compatible with several major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin and USD Coin, along with Crypterium’s own CRPT token. The company has announced it has shipped more than 4000 of such debit cards around the world. 

Previous attempts

The story of crypto debit cards has not always been smooth. Recently, a number of high profile companies have shut down their crypto debit card operation. This includes Coinbase. Yes, previously Coinbase had launched a card named Shift Bitcoin debit card. This card allowed users to spend Bitcoin (BTC) via the existing Visa debit infrastructure. The card could be used worldwide, but on April 11th the card ceased operation. However, the company did assure current service users that the product will function as usual up until the advertised cut-off date. The company has not yet given an official reason for the shutdown. Another setback to the crypto debit card industry came when Visa ended its relationship with debit card provider WaveCrest. Later, it was revealed that the termination happened due to WaveCrest’s noncompliance with Visa’s operating rules. The company revealed this through a statement afterward. 

 “We can confirm that WaveCrest’s Visa membership is being terminated due to continued non-compliance with our operating rules. All of WaveCrest’s Visa card programs will be closed as a result. Visa has other approved card programs that use fiat funds converted from cryptocurrency in a number of jurisdictions. The termination of WaveCrest’s Visa membership does not affect these other products.”

Crypto debit cards, purchase of crypto with credit cards, newer investment options by exchanges and crypto wallet in phones, these are really exciting developments that have gotten steam during the last year. All of it is making crypto more accessible to both investors as well as retail customers. All of these coupled with the discussion around crypto thanks to Libra is attracting more and more people into crypto, especially institutional investors. For those who predicted the end of crypto during the late 2017-2018 crash, this is surely crypto’s revenge. The openness of crypto along with its decentralized nature means any obstacle it faces will be overcome with innovation as it always has. 
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Abishek Dharshan
Article By

Abishek Dharshan

Abishek is an Entrepreneur, Digital Nomad, Student, and ICO Marketing Manager currently based in Berlin & Champaign. He is actively involved in the Blockchain space and has worked in numerous projects in the Silicon Valley since 2017. His interests revolve around Finance, Consulting, and Blockchain Research.

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