A new Visa debit card means Brits can now use their cryptocurrency holdings to pay for goods and services in the same way as they would spend pounds sitting in their bank account. Coinbase, the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, is behind the card which has been launched in partnership with Apto Payments.
Apto, which previously went by the name of Shift Payments, previously offered its own card, offered to U.S. citizens with cryptocurrency accounts on Coinbase. It discontinued the card and service February with little warning, a move that now obviously paved the way for the new partnership with the exchange.
The new Coinbase card is the first debit card offered in the UK to allow cryptocurrency holders to use their digital coins to pay for everyday products and services priced in fiat. The card and payments system behind it automatically converts cryptocurrencies to the appropriate fiat currency at the current exchange rate, deducting the balance from the holder’s account on the Coinbase exchange. A Eurozone version of the card will also be rolled out later this year. There is currently no timeline for the U.S. launch.
Coinbase UK’s Zeeshan Feroz commented:
“We want to launch in the UK first, just to get a sense of the reaction, to get the product right, and then move into more markets”.
He went on to explain why the UK was selected as the new cryptocurrency card’s pilot market:
“In many ways, [Coinbase UK] is an independent arm of the company. We are targeting UK consumers because, generally speaking, data shows they are much more open to accepting new types of debit cards. There are a lot of challenger banks here compared with the US, where most people tend to stick with well-established businesses.”
High Kingdon, Visa’s head of fintech for UK and Ireland, also commented on why the payments processing giant has chosen to partner the card:
“We value the opportunity to collaborate with fintech partners such as Coinbase to develop cutting-edge payments solutions for businesses and consumers”
After over a year on a downward trajectory following the cryptocurrency ‘bubble’ of 2017, bitcoin and the wider market has enjoyed a rally since the beginning of April. Bitcoin has gained over $1000 in just over a week to move back up to over $5300 although prices have been moving back down again today.
Many market observers have been calling the demise of the cryptocurrency phenomenon over the past 15 months or so. Others, however, maintain the sector has been building up infrastructure in the background and will return in a more mature format to crack mainstream financial markets and offer a genuine alternative, or compliment, to the fiat monetary system.