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Crypto Hold’Em
2019

Cointelegraph explores the full house of different crypto debit cards that are on the table today.
Our research includes the latest news and updates, as well as the main features of these cards.
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What are cryptocurrency
debit cards?

Cryptocurrency debit cards are almost exactly the same as the debit cards you already have in your wallet. You can use these “crypto cards” to pay for goods anywhere government-issued money is accepted because they are connected with cryptocurrency wallets (typically, hot wallets) and convert your crypto assets on the spot.

Additionally, you can transfer funds to and from your card via traditional channels like SWIFT, as your crypto holdings are converted into fiat money in real time.

Merchants are often reluctant to accept crypto payments due to high volatility and transaction times.

Crypto debit cards address this concern by connecting digital currencies with the traditional financial services industry through leveraging the existing Visa/Mastercard infrastructure.

How it works

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Сhoose a crypto debit card provider (like one from the list below) and follow the instructions on how to set up the wallet.

Most of the crypto debit card services integrate their proprietary wallet app with the card. You’ll have to deposit some crypto funds into that wallet before using the card.

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Order the actual physical card and wait for its arrival. You can usually order the card within the app offered by the provider.

If the provider doesn’t offer its own wallet app, you’ll have to link your personal crypto wallet to the card. Note that in many cases you’ll have to pay a monthly maintenance fee.

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Start using your crypto debit card to pay for goods and withdraw cash from ATMs!

While all crypto cards seamlessly convert cryptocurrencies for payments, some also allow users to transfer the balance into a dedicated fiat account.

The Aces of Crypto Cards

In this part we look at the most discussed crypto cards of 2019
Crypto.com's MCO Visa Card launches in Europe
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Metal Visa Debit Cards with up to 5% back on all spending from Crypto.com

Following the launch of the MCO Visa Card in Singapore (Oct. 2018) and the U.S. (July 2019), Crypto.com has just announced the European program "green light". With over 1 million users on the platform. Crypto.com has launched its “Time for Plan B” campaign to celebrate the milestone, including a billboard campaign in San Francisco and a recurring Twitter bitcoin luckydraw (on every Friday). With the vision of “cryptocurrency in every wallet,” Crypto.com offers a wide range of products — including a crypto wallet, the ability to earn interest of crypto deposits, an instant loan in crypto, a quant-traded crypto portfolio, crypto payment services, and the focus of this post, its MCO Visa Card.

The MCO Visa Card is a metal card with no annual, monthly or delivery fees, powered by the company’s MCO token, which is one of the best crypto cards when it comes to rewards in 2019. (Try searching "best crypto cards 2019", you will see MCO Visa Card showing on many lists).

The card has the following features:

  • Users can make purchases using cryptocurrencies (with fiat conversion) anywhere Visa is accepted. It is now shipping in Singapore and 49 states in the U.S. Their program just received the "green light" to roll out in Europe so crypto fans are expecting to receive the cards in a few months time.
  • Up to 5% back on all spending, unlimited lounge access,100% rebate on Spotify and Netflix subscriptions, and more traveling perks depending on card tier.
  • Paired with the card, the app offers 50+ coins which can be bought at true cost and Earn services for users to earn up to 12% p.a. on stablecoins and 8% p.a. on other cryptocurrencies stored on the app —15 in all.
  • The Credit service allows users to borrow funds using a choice of four cryptocurrencies as collateral with an interest rate of 8% p.a.
  • Crypto.com takes data security very seriously and is the first cryptocurrency company that has achieved CCSS (Level 3), ISO27001 and PCI: DSS Level 1 compliance.
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Metal Visa Card with up to 5%
back on all spending
Order now Now available to order
author
Kris Marszalek
Co-Founder and CEO of Crypto.com

The solid metal MCO Visa Card is beautifully designed and simply beats anything else out there, not only in crypto space, but also compared to what high end credit cards have on offer.

It’s actually so good that it becomes the top-of-the-wallet card for some of the users in their day to day spending. It’s also paired with a wallet app that has 1m users, supporting 50+ coins, with ability to earn interest on your crypto deposits and get instant crypto loans.

Live in the United States and Singapore today, coming to EU early next year.

New Litecoin
Foundation
partnership rolls
out new card
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BlockCard — a co-developed Litecoin and Bibox Debit Card

In January 2019, United States-based, blockchain-oriented firm Ternio launched its crypto debit card dubbed BlockCard. Initially, it supported only four cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ether, Stellar Lumens and Ternio. In June, the Litecoin Foundation announced that it had teamed up with Bibox Exchange and Ternio to roll out its own version of BlockCard. The new card is now released as a joint venture by the three companies.

Here are the card’s main features:

  • BlockCard enables customers to spend cryptocurrency both online and offline worldwide.
  • Besides Litecoin (LTC), users are also able to spend 11 other coins, including the native tokens of Bibox Exchange and Ternio, Bibox Token (BIX) and Ternio (TERN).
  • The card is integrated directly into the Bibox Exchange and LoafWallet — Litecoin’s official wallet.
  • While Bibox Exchange is set acts as custodian of users’ funds and to leverage north of $200 million worth of cryptocurrency trading volume, Ternio aims to provide a dedicated blockchain platform.
author
Charlie Lee
Litecoin creator and managing director of the Litecoin Foundation

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 rolled out in six European countries
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Debit Card Coinbase launched in 2011

In June 2019, Coinbase launched its Visa debit card in six European countries. Customers in Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands are able to connect the cards to their Coinbase accounts to spend their cryptocurrencies at any merchant that accepts Visa cards. Coinbase previously introduced the debit card to its customers in the United Kingdom in April 2019.

Here are the card’s main features:

  • The card comes in two formats: a mobile app for iOS or Android and a physical card that can be used to make cash withdrawals from ATMs.
  • The Coinbase Card allows transactions worldwide in multiple cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Litecoin (powered by the user’s Coinbase account crypto balances).
  • The card will be supported by an app that enables users to select which crypto wallets are used when spending.
  • The app provides receipts and transaction summaries.

Coinbase Card is issued, authorized and regulated by the electronic money institution Paysafe Financial Services Limited.

author
Zeeshan Feroz
CEO of Coinbase UK

Coinbase Card is powered by customers’ Coinbase account crypto balances, giving them the ability to pay in-store and online using bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, and more.

Customers can use their card in millions of locations around the world, making payments through contactless, Chip and PIN, as well as cash withdrawals from ATMs.

When customers use their Coinbase Card, we instantly convert crypto to fiat currency, such as GBP, which is used to complete the purchase.

Flashback

Where did it all initially go wrong
for BTC cards?

While the summer of 2019 is proving to be a popular time for card launches, the market was not always so receptive.
Here are a few examples of when crypto card providers failed or struggled to continue offering their services.

Visa cancelled support for WaveCrest, hurting adoption

One of the most prominent setbacks for the sector occurred in January 2018 when, Visa ended its relationship with debit card provider WaveCrest. At the time, the payment giant’s decision caused backlash from the crypto community.

The company later revealed that the relationship had been terminated due to WaveCrest violating Visa’s policies. A Visa representative explained:

“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 programmes will be closed as a result.”
“Visa has other approved card programmes 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,” he added.
Wirex’s Debit Card was launched in 2018
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Updated design of the Wirex Debit Card available for order in 2019

After Visa ended collaboration with WaveCrest, crypto card provider Wirex couldn’t continue its services given that its card was based on WaveCrest. In fact, several other crypto card firms faced setbacks that month because of WaveCrest’s issues with Visa.

The good news is that Wirex had started to search for partnerships with other card providers prior to WaveCrest’s collapse, which helped the company land on its feet in the end. In February of this year, the debit card provider launched a major update, adding 10 new fiat currencies. Now, Wirex can convert 18 cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies at the point of sale.

The main reasons why Visa ceased its support for WaveCrest are the following:

  • When ending collaboration with Wirex, Visa cited “continued non-compliance with our operating rules,” though it didn’t provide further details on the nature of violations.
  • Rumors spread that Visa didn’t like being seen as a channel for spending digital currencies potentially related to illegal activities.
  • Some crypto advocates wondered if Visa was trying to impede an industry that could ultimately undermine its global payment network.

But eventually, Visa and other companies that fully depend on fiat currencies couldn’t stop crypto debit cards from reaching widespread adoption.

Cryptocurrency cards will thrive in the future as they’re currently the best tools that connect digital coins with traditional finance, making sure that the former have potential for real-world use cases besides being used as stores of value and speculative instruments. This is especially relevant when the e-commerce industry is expanding at a rapid pace.