On November 20th  Coinbase announced the launch of the Shift Card; a bitcoin debit card which seeks to provide an everyday solution for those looking to spend their bitcoin.

Shifting Gears

By combining the universal recognition of Visa with the security of Coinbase’s wallet, users will now be able to spend the bitcoins stored in their Coinbase accounts anywhere that Visa is accepted.  The Shift Card will allow users to spend their bitcoin as though it were a regular debit card, which has raised some concerns from Rik Willard, Founder and Managing Director at Agentic Group. Willard commented:

“I don't know the inner workings of the Shift Card, but it would make sense that Coinbase may be converting BTC to fiat on the fly with some sort of internal reserve that can cover an estimated number of purchases based on card issuances and limits, but that's not the important thing. What is likely important is that it may it defeat the purpose for many Bitcoin purists who want to use actual BTC as a currency to pay for goods. So the question is ‘who is their market?’”

Rik Willard, Founder and Managing Director at Agentic Group

While metered in his skepticism towards the card’s adoption by more traditional users, Willard continued:

“I'm not sure that Bitcoin pioneers will be running to get the Shift Card but I can see that - if positioned correctly - it may let new consumers feel safe about trying something new. But there's a big red flag in the way -- with a $10 activation fee that must be paid in bitcoin, they are either forcing newbies to get bitcoin in order to play, or asking veterans to join in the party for a couple of satoshi. That’s a schizophrenic strategy that smells a bit like desperation. I would like to see it succeed, but have my doubts. Time -- and marketing muscle -- will tell.”

Willard is not alone. Ward Stirrat, Co-founder of CoinPayments, chimed a similar tune when asked what he thought of the announcement:

“This is becoming a more common product out in the marketplace with several companies having launched these already.”

When asked whether or not he found the announcement noteworthy or if it was merely gathering attention because the one making the announcement is a major market player, he replied:

“More the latter. E-coin has been doing this for the past year...Still, great that they are enabling mainstream spending of BTC as it moves the whole crypto space ahead. Applaud the launch.”

Ward Stirrat, Co-founder of CoinPayments

Vladmir Dubinin, CEO of Distributed Lab, gave a different insight:

“Certainly it is a step forward. more options and interesting live experiment for all community, everybody can use debit card natively connected to BTC-deposit. The most interesting thing for me now is the speed of adoption of this service...’m happy that market has this option. This proposition from the biggest player is valuable and well-timed. It is very interesting to know how many users will order this card in next 3 months.”