Defining the mainstream use of bitcoin within a card as a bitcoin debit card, is a massive understatement for the capabilities of the hard plastic that links to the world of e-payments as a secure and vast APM (alternative payment method).
To put it simply, a Bitcoin debit card, is a debit card loaded with BTC (or bits of a bitcoin aka Satoshis*) or similar cryptocurrencies and altcoins*. Acting as you would expect users to do with a standard debit card; customers are able to make transactions with EMV, NFC and online support.
Often supporting more than one cryptocurrency, there has been a significant rise in crypto-billing; given the cumulative effects of multiple geo-political crises and the transformation of blockchain outlooks. Some traders have transformed from their days of hodling* cryptocurrencies to now, frequently making small payments – especially when those former glory days have paid off in full.
The ways in which we use certain cryptocurrencies have changed. As we embrace mobile commerce, the embrace of decentralized banking is becoming more and more mainstream.
Linked to exchanges and e-wallets, the choice of debit cards for crypto holders wishing to integrate their funds into mainstream points of sale, are few and far between – depending on where you live.
With sanctions and regulations around cryptocurrencies only just being rolled out on a formal and consistent basis, many card schemes have been shut down, and entering the mainstream has always been a difficult path for the crypto industry.
Out of the remaining few, there are three leading cards for those wanting to spend crypto via a POS or digital checkout; but they are not without faults.
Rarely are there restrictions on where you can spend your currency when it is loaded onto these cards, due to the process in which it is spent; especially with the added backing of the acquiring bank behind each card – typically Visa. In paying with your debit card, a charge is deducted from your BTC balance to account for the conversion and processing fees. Your acquiring bank and issuer may also charge a transaction fee.
The Global 3
Coinbase has long been known as the easiest path into Bitcoin. Despite numerous security controversies that many exchanges are subjected to; Coinbase is the recommended option for UK based customers. With password controversary and Bitcoin core* fundamentalists threatening to bring up the rear of the argument, it’s important to compartmentalize and focus on the features of the Coinbase card. Available across 6 EU countries: Spain, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, France and the UK - the conversion of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and other currencies into stablecoins - aka centralized Fiat - defies the Bitcoin maximalist* ethos as loudly as the VISA stamp that brands most of the debit cards that facilitate the payments.
$4.95 issuing fee 1-2% ATM fees (depending on location) No monthly fees. £200 withdrawal limit.
Similarly, the Wirex card is advised for any users within the UK and European Economic Area. Issued by Visa and supporting Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin; spending these deposited currencies at a point of sale or online (like Coinbase) will allow the merchant to receive the transaction in their preferred and local currencies - whether they be euros, pounds sterling or US dollars.
Wirex is a FCA licensed e-money issuer and is due to offer support across North America and Asia.
- $2.5 withdrawal fee at ATM in Europe.
- $3.5 withdrawal fee at ATM outside of Europe.
- Account management begins at $1.5 per month.
- Users can earn 0.5% in BTC every time they use their card to pay in person through the Cryptoback scheme.
Users within the United States are advised to use Bitpay, which supports the deposit and transfer of the United States Dollar, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Gemini Dollar and more. Users can track real-time payments and upload multiple cards and loyalty schemes to their e-wallet, to use on their card.
Bitpay is supported on Apply and Google Pay, Linux and Microsoft for desktop payments.
No transaction fees.
- BTC only.
- Visa Issued.
- $9.95 order fee.
- 3% conversion fee if used outside of the US.
- Up to $3 withdrawal fee.
- Available across the US.
- Requires a KYC to use.
POS and withdrawal features are currently suspended. All cards have a physical and app component.
Is it safe?
Bitcoin is known for being supported by blockchain technology, which is notoriously underwritten with an encrypted and decentralised ethos.
Amassing the features of these leading providers, crypto debit cards not only offer blockchain-typical cold storage for funds (aka an offline storage option) and multi-signature addresses to split payment authorization across 12 devices or co-payers – but they have the added securities of traditional banking.
Users can be comforted with level 1 PCI DSS compliance, 2-factor authentication and instant freeze actions across their devices. With additional biometrics added to devices that manage the user’s funds, there is little for the customer to worry about.
Can it last?
Regulated surrounding cryptocurrencies have been contradictory and ambiguous. Though Visa is a named supporter across these cards, in 2018 they suspended the WaveCrest crypto project. With the future unknown, it is best to refer the old BTC trader ethos. Never invest more than you are willing to risk.
Should it last?
Many crypto debit cards and gift cards are licensed by Paysafe; a well-established and accepted prepayments card system. Adding to the reassurance that with the functionality of a debit card – the true banking element lays within the e-wallet; users can feel assured that once they have deposited funds onto their debit cards, they are entering a realm of relative safety.
Why use it?
It is not uncommon, especially across more embracing countries, for people to be paid in cryptocurrency and need to spend it in FIAT. To save time on exchanges when you are likely to make a loss on the real-time value after conversions and processing times; a debit card is a great way to workaround this. Truer to the ethos, the decentralisation maximalist will believe that cryptocurrencies are more authentic and people-focused that FIAT currencies and will try to use them wherever possible.
Total Processing currently accepts Bitpay, Paysafe and Pumapay for all your crypto-billing, processing and merchant services.
Apply for a quote today to learn more.
Satoshis: bits of a BTC
Alt-coin: cryptocurrencies issued on top of the blockchain currencies Hodling: To buy and hold (hodl) your coin without spending it. To watch its value increase.
Bitcoin Developer: Christian Moss