Coinbase, the leading cryptocurrency firm, is planning to launch a Visa debit card in the United Kingdom that will allow people to spend cryptocurrency when shopping in stores and online.
Today, Coinbase UK revealed it plans for the card. It will be linked to Coinbase accounts, which allow people to buy and hold a range of cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and ethereum.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance UK, the UK CEO of Coinbase, Zeeshan Feroz, stated: “We’ve invested nearly 12 months in this and we’re very excited about this.”
He added: “I used my Litecoin balance the other day to do some shopping at Amazon and at Tesco. Bridging that gap between crypto and being able to spend is hugely exciting.”
The new debit card will convert cryptocurrencies into euros or pound at the point of exchange, meaning retailers do not need to sign up to anything to accept the cards.
The card costs £4.95, however, the first 1,000 will be given away for free. Coinbase will charge a 2.49 percent fee for all transactions in the United Kingdom, a 2.69 percent fee for transactions in the European Union, and a 5.49 percent fee for transactions in the rest of the world.
Feroz said that Coinbase is planning to roll out the card to the rest of the European Union if it proves to be a success in the United Kingdom. He noted that the firm has “several million” customers across the UK and the EU.
The launch comes despite the declining prices and activity in the cryptocurrency space. According to CryptoCompare, a data provider, the total value of cryptocurrencies in circulation has dropped by more than 75 percent since its peak in early 2018. Monthly cryptocurrency exchange volumes have also declined by more than 400% since their peak.
According to a study that was conducted by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority earlier this year, the top reasons why Brits bought cryptocurrency included a “fear of missing out” and hopes of getting rich quickly. The study suggests that most people saw crypto as an investment opportunity, instead of a new currency to use for purchases.
Feroz said that the debit card was about helping crypto move into the next phase of its development.
He stated: “I think ultimately you are looking at a transition, whether it happens today or tomorrow, where crypto starts to become more than just an investment product.”
He added: “Having a debit card that’s tied into your crypto balances, it changes the perception of what your crypto represents. It turns it into a very liquid store of value that you can spend in the same way that you can spend pound sterling for example.”
Coinbase entered a partnership with Paysafe and Visa on the debit card. Feroz said that Visa were “incredibly positive” about the project.
He added: “Generally speaking, there’s a certain shift in perceptions around crypto. The narrative has shifted. It’s easier to have these conversations.”
He continued: “You’ve got to present a reasonable business case. We’re a regulated e-money institution. We look, feel, smell like any other financial institution for the fiat part of our business. That also offers some reassurance when you approach financial service partners.”