Xapo now provides the option for customers to ask for a credit card number and expiration date to enable them to transact online, and for $15 they can even receive a physical card with a magstripe usable at any outlet accepting Mastercard for point-of-sale.
Founder and CEO Wences Casares told TechCrunch, “Most of our customers keep 90% of their bitcoins in our vault and 10% in their wallet. The addition of card access to these wallets will allow that 10 percent to be instantly transferred to cash”.
How it works
The Xapo system works by pinging a wallet associated with the card number. Xapo then checks that there are sufficient funds available to pay and sells BTC for fiat currency via Bitstamp.
The customer need not do anything different to paying with a regular credit card, making the system more tailored to casual consumers than Bitcoin aficionados. “It’s for my grandma,” Casares adds.
Mass appeal through ease of use is what the Bitcoin community is looking for, and Xapo received “a wall of coins” upon advertising the project’s development.
At present, customers cannot use the physical cards at ATMs, although this feature will likely soon be added. While they also pay no fees for the service, merchants are subject to the standard Mastercard charges, which may limit the scheme’s appeal compared to integrated Bitcoin payment systems, at least in the first instance.
The advantages for the customer may outweigh this. “If you have to spend dollars instead of bitcoins, you might want to sometimes sell your bitcoins for dollars, but when you can spend bitcoins anywhere you can use your credit card the mental math is very different. This solution and the ones that come after it are huge news,” Adam Levine of LetsTalkBitcoin.com said in support of the concept.
While he may be sitting on a hit, Casares nevertheless remains grounded with regard to the future. “Everybody is speculating that something major is going to happen with Bitcoin adoption in 2014,” he told TechCrunch. “I disagree. The same thing that happened in the last three years will keep happening. We’re going to gradually get to mass adoption but it will take some time.”
Xapo meanwhile has also developed a vault for larger Bitcoin deposits, which caused quite some attention when it was launched last month due to its offering complete insurance of deposited funds which users pay only a nominal yearly fee to use.
You can find out more about Xapo here.