Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are still relatively new in the world of finance and technology. Due to the disruptive aspect of these new payment methods, institutions, governments, and individuals are rather wary of embracing the new forms of money. One way to win over some souls is by uniting existing payment technology with virtual currencies, even though it is not the perfect solution.
Use Bitcoin At Over 30 Million Locations Worldwide
In its truest form, this is one of the feats of strength the entire Bitcoin community hopes to achieve in the very near future. Spending Bitcoin at nearly every type of retail location you can think of would be astonishing. For the merchants, they would pay less fees, receive money faster, and not have to invest in additional infrastructure. Consumers, on the other hand, would be able to spend virtual currency, rather than deal with centralized payment solutions like cash or card payments.
With mobile payments gaining in popularity over the past 18 months, Bitcoin seems to be a perfect candidate to compete with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and any other type of mobile payment solution. In fact, you could go as far as saying that Bitcoin has been the frontrunner in this race, as convenient mobile payments have been available to Bitcoin users for quite some time now.
Yet, for some reason, neither merchants nor consumers are flocking to Bitcoin or other virtual currencies in terms of using them for payments. Is this because Bitcoin has a PR problem, due to its colored and semi-shady past? Or does it have to do with lack of educational efforts on what Bitcoin is trying to achieve, and the problems it is trying to solve?
Both of those questions could be answered with both “yes” and “no,” depending on whom you ask. While the entire Bitcoin community is waiting for that mainstream push in terms of adoption, several Bitcoin companies are working on bringing Bitcoin payments to over 30 million locations around the world.
Even though Bitcoin debit and prepaid cards are not a perfect solution, they offer some level of convenience to both experienced and novice Bitcoin users. Granted, a Bitcoin card is not the same as paying with virtual currency directly, as it makes nearly no difference for the merchant receiving the payment.
Even so, Bitcoin debit or prepaid cards offer something traditional credit cards do not: lower fees per transaction. These fees are not as low as with direct Bitcoin payments, mind you, but debit cards are subject to a flat fee. This is in contrast to credit card transactions, which are subject to a percentage type fee, based on the transaction amount.
Finding a Decent Bitcoin Debit or Prepaid Card
Multiple companies currently offer Bitcoin prepaid or debit cards to customers around the world, yet most of them have either too high usage fees, or face problems in terms of card transactions being refused. Xapo, for example, one of the largest Bitcoin debit card issuers in the world today, saw users run into various transactions issues in recent months, even though the cards were funded with plenty of money.
E-Coin is one of the unsung heroes of the industry at this time, as the European company offers Bitcoin debit cards at no transaction fees. [There is a 2% funding fee for every transaction though] Furthermore, obtaining an E-Coin debit card costs $17 USD, which also includes worldwide shipping costs. Additionally, there are three different denominations for E-Coin Bitcoin debit cards, as EUR, GBP and USD major currencies are available and in stock right now.
Despite Bitcoin debit cards, such as the one issued by E-Coin, not being the proper way of using Bitcoin payments at merchant locations around the world, it does give virtual currency community members additional options to spend money. Plus, using an E-Coin Bitcoin debit card does help out the merchant in question, due to slightly lower transaction fees on that type of card payment.
Uniting both existing payment technologies with disruptive virtual currency solutions seems to be the way forward to push Bitcoin adoption at this time. That situation will, hopefully, change in the near future, though, once more merchants start realizing the benefits of Bitcoin payments. But there is also a large group of everyday consumers who need to be convinced on the advantages of virtual currencies, which is a different matter altogether.
What are your thoughts on Bitcoin debit cards in general? Do you own a Bitcoin debit card, and if so, which one? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of E-Coin, BonusBots & Shutterstock
The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Bitcoin.com.