At June’s PayExpo, PaymentEye interviewed Nicolas Cary, the co-founder of Blockchain, a mobile Bitcoin wallet and naturally one of the key areas of discussion was the future of the cryptocurrency.
Despite increased interest and huge investments, Bitcoin is still perceived very much as an alternative payment method. One of the questions posed to Nicolas was whether the currency would take on features of the more traditional, popular payment methods. For example, would we see Bitcoin payment cards, perhaps even contactless ones?
Nicolas was very certain that yes, we would see Bitcoin cards, going so far as to predict that “they won’t rely on Visa, AmEx, or MasterCard at all, and will use the Bitcoin protocol instead”.
It appears we have taken a first step towards that future as Coinbase, one of the largest bitcoin wallet firms in the US, has partnered with Shift Payments, the company that aims to corral all the different currencies in one payment card, to release a Bitcoin Visa debit card.
“The Shift Card is a VISA debit card that currently allows Coinbase users in twenty-four states in the U.S. to spend bitcoin online and offline at over 38 million merchants worldwide,” Coinbase said in a statement.
The company says now it is possible to possible to use bitcoin to buy petrol, food with the Shift Card anywhere Visa is accepted.
To get the card, users must have a Coinbase account which they connect to Shift Payments, and then order the card by providing their physical address and authorising the $10 issuance fee.
For the time being, Coinbase said there are no fees associated with US merchant transactions beyond the one-time $10 issuance fee. However, the company did stress that in the future, it may charge a fee to Shift for the conversion of bitcoin, which Shift may pass to the user.
So far, there have been no news of the card making its way to the UK, although Coinbase has recently expanded its presence into Britain in September, when it allowed customers to purchase and sell bitcoin with GBP using its mobile wallet.
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