The Bitcoin debit card provider, Shake, has launched its Bitcoin tap and pay service at contactless terminals. It allows customers to simply tap their phone against a terminal to pay for goods.

The cards have a limit of $2,500 in transactions a day, or $10,000 when the user sends documentation to Shake confirming their identities.

An alpha test

On 24th March, Shake released a post on their blog informing users of the release of their Bitcoin tap and pay system “Shake Alpha”. It will work using their mobile app, and in conjunction with their web app, and will allow users to make everyday purchases in bitcoin.

Jean Amiouny and Roy Breidi, Co-Founders at Shake, say:

“It comes in two flavours: a mobile app that allows you to tap and pay at contactless terminals and a web app that displays your virtual card to pay online.”

Users who wish to start accessing the Shake service should head over to and add their email to the early access list. New people are being invited everyday, but if you’re really eager to get started, you can send the Shake team some bitcoin-related humour to [email protected] to get yourself to the top of the list.

How to use it

Users who wish to utilise this new service must first add funds to their Shake account, which can then be accessed via the Shake Android app. As soon as this is done, the user is free to use tap & pay at store terminals, and view their card details for online purchases.

Anyone with an Android phone equipped with NFC will be able to use tap & any VISA-accepting contactless terminal. An iOS version is to be released in mid-April that shares all the features of the Android app, bar the rather crucial tap & pay feature.

Fees and charges

The Shake web app can be used in conjunction with the Shake mobile app, or be used independently for adding funds, viewing card details, and for online purchases. There are zero fees associated with creating your first card, and zero monthly fees.

However, there is a 1% charge on the bitcoin to fiat exchange, and a 3% charge if a card is used in a foreign transaction, e.g. a USD card used in a CAD transaction. One of the main draws of Shake’s debit card system is that it allows customers to issue as many cards as they like, meaning they can have different cards for different accounts.

Bitcoin community sceptical about Shake Alpha

Although many on the /r/bitcoin subreddit embrace the idea of tap & pay being used to pay for goods in Bitcoin, criticism is also strong, mainly stemming from the fact that you’re not really paying in Bitcoin. As Reddit user, /u/token_dave, humorously put it:

“Spend bitcoin anywhere*†‡

* Not available in the US

† You are actually paying us the bitcoin

‡You are actually spending fiat using the same rails that bitcoin was created to eliminate.

Down with the system!”