Bitcoin has made waves since spiking in value last year, but despite the hype it’s difficult to pay for anything with the cryptocurrency. While you can pay with a flick of the wrist using some new technology, so far it still requires that the person that you’re paying accepts Bitcoins in the first place. Xapo wants to change that. It’s offering pre-orders for a new debit card that can use your Bitcoins anywhere MasterCard is accepted, and the merchant will be paid in U.S. Dollars.
For some time now, members of the Bitcoin community have discussed ways to better send and receive their currency, especially when only a fraction of the world uses the newfangled currency. Xapo is the first to announce plans to offer customers debit cards that allow Bitcoins stored in a Xapo wallet to be used anywhere plastic or Bitcoin are accepted.
Here’s how Xapo works: Once you swipe the card, Xapo will receive your transaction and check the balance of your wallet. If you have enough Bitcoins, it will instantly convert the amount needed into the market-price in whatever currency your merchant accepts and then approve the transaction. To the merchant, it looks like any other purchase with their currency of choice and the same old MasterCard fees. To the user, it looks like they’ve just paid with Bitcoin.
Beneath this simple concept though the financial logistics are more complicated. Xapo isn’t partnering with MasterCard to make this happen. Instead, it is working with a number of banks in the U.S. and Europe to issue debit cards and help transfer funds.
Debit cards aren’t the only things that the Palo Alto-based (but incorporated in Hong Kong) company does. It also offers a wallet service to allow easy, secure access to your Bitcoins anywhere and an insured “vault” where you can store your Bitcoins and have insurance against should Xapo go up in smoke. Insurance is not a service all Bitcoin storage companies offer, and those who leave their Bitcoins in exchanges can have them potentially lost if the site is hacked or other woes occur.
According to Xapo, the debit card is expected to be available in two months. If you’re interested in pre-ordering you can click here.