In January 2018, bitcoin debit card providers such as Xapo, Wirex and Bitwala were forced to cancel their services with zero notice following a sudden directive issued from VISA. As of a few days ago, Wirex are the first to relaunch a new line of bitcoin debit cards for UK-based customers, bouncing back strongly a short two months after the crackdown.
The bitcoin debit card is only available to UK-based users for the time being, with the Wirex team stating they plan to expand their availability to the rest of Europe by the end of March. There are also prospects for Japan and South East Asia based availability, but the Wirex Team have not put a firm date on it.
The cards have contactless capabilities and are multi-currency, with flexibility between GBP, EUR and USD accounts.
Wirex is the only provider in Europe right now to offer crypto, converted into fiat for everyday spending on cards. Transactions in stores, buying goods online or withdrawing money from ATMs just got much easier.
“We were the first to bring such cards to the world and now we’re the first to bring converted cryptocurrency accounts with new contactless debit cards.
Pavel Matveev, Wirex CEO
Until bitcoin gains enough mainstream traction to be considered a medium of exchange, companies like Wirex are providing an essential service. This is the closest thing advocates can get to living off of bitcoin as of today.
The alternative is to manually convert bitcoin earnings into local currency via an intermediary such as a fiat-ready cryptocurrency exchange. However, with the regulatory crosshairs on bitcoin in many countries, this is either highly cumbersome or even impossible if the customer's government has issued a ban on cryptocurrency-to-fiat transactions. In such cases, a bitcoin debit card is not only more convenient, but it may be the only option for easy liquidity.
In our initial coverage on the VISA crackdown, Crypto Insider stated that this left a vacuum for a fast-moving and innovative card issuing service to take the lead. It appears that Wirex have done just that. Time will tell if they can expand their contactless bitcoin debit card services worldwide, but with a strong start for UK-based customers, things are looking positive.
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