Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies, including ethereum, Ripple’s XRP, and litecoin, have long struggled against accusations they are harder to spend and use in the real world than their traditional fiat counterparts. (Coinbase Card)
The bitcoin price, which leaped higher last week to trade around $5,000 per bitcoin, has been called too unstable and volatile to be used as a means of payment, resulting in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies being used more of a store of value, like gold, than traditional means-of-exchange currency.
Now, major bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has teamed up with Visa to try to change that, launching the Coinbase Card which allows users to “spend crypto as effortlessly as the money in their bank.”
Coinbase is hoping its Visa debit card gets people using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for real world spending.
The debit card can be used to spend Coinbase bitcoin, ethereum, Ripple’s XRP, and litecoin balances “in millions of locations around the world,” by converting the cryptocurrency to fiat when the card is used—the merchant or store gets paid in traditional fiat currency.
Coinbase users can choose which cryptocurrency is used on the card through a new app which supports all crypto assets available to buy and sell on the Coinbase platform. The app also offers instant receipts, transaction summaries, and spending categories, to help people keep track of their spending.
“This is the first debit card to link directly with a major cryptocurrency exchange, allowing people to spend their crypto balances direct from their Coinbase account,” Coinbase said in a statement announcing the card. “Previously available crypto cards required users to pre-load a specified amount of crypto onto their card, adding a point of friction to the process.”
The Coinbase Card is currently only available in the U.K. but the exchange plans to roll out support in other European countries in the “oncoming months.”