Coinbase Launches Crypto Visa Debit Card (In the UK)
Back before cryptocurrencies became the gold rush of 2017, the intent was always to spend and use such assets like you would fiat currency. The problem was that only a handful of sites and physical stores accepted Bitcoin, with even fewer allowing for payments in other digital currencies. One proposed short-term solution has been crypto debit cards. Now one popular cryptocurrency exchange is jumping into the debit card arena… at least in the United Kingdom.
Last week, in a blog post, Coinbase announced their new Coinbase Card. This card will allow users to spend their Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrency balance(s) in stores or make ATM withdrawals. To make this possible, the card automatically converts crypto into fiat currency for acceptance. In addition to chip and pin transactions, the card will also support contactless payments. Cardholders can manage their Coinbase Card from an accompanying app, allowing them to view transactions, select which crypto wallet they want to utilize for purchases, etc.
While this sounds like a great idea, Mashable notes that the card carries a number of fees. First of all, there’s a £4.95 card issuance fee, which Coinbase says it’s waiving for the first 1,000 people who join the waitlist as a way of celebrating the card’s release. Beyond that there will apparently also be a 2.49% fee for domestic purchases, a 3% international fee (which gets added to a 2.49% fee), and more. There are also spending and usage limits to the card, including a £10,000 daily purchase limit — along with a £20,000 monthly and £50,000 yearly limit — and a daily ATM withdrawal limit of £500.
Currently the Coinbase Card is only being offered to customers in the United Kingdom. However the company says they plan to roll out the offering to other European countries “in the coming months.” So far there’s no mention as to when the card or some version of it might arrive stateside.
On the one hand, the introduction of Coinbase Card seems like a no-brainer that helps bridge the gap between crypto and fiat. Unforunately, on the other hand, the fees associated with the card in its current form will likely be too much for many to bear — especially since one of the main selling points of crypto has been the low transaction cost. Therefore it’s hard to imagine that most consumers would be willing to pay an extra 2.49% or more per transaction outside of wanting to experience the novelty of using such a card. Nevertheless hopefully Coinbase Card proves to be a step in the right direction and helps increase cryptocurrency acceptance around the world.