Coinbase Debit Card Makes Crypto 'Liquid' Like Cash, U.K. CEO Says

April 15, 2019
Updated 8d ago

By Chloe Aiello

Coinbase's new Visa debit card aims to make cryptocurrencies easier to use on everyday transactions, the company's U.K. CEO Zeeshan Feroz told Cheddar on Monday.

"It makes crypto as liquid almost as cash," Feroz said. "In that transition to a world where crypto serves as a store of value, it's a step in the right direction."

Digital currency exchange Coinbase announced last week a partnership with Visa to launch the Coinbase Card in the U.K., allowing Bitcoin and Ethereum holders to patronize businesses that don't explicitly accept cryptocurrency.

To spend crypto, holders must conduct transactions with businesses that accept digital currencies or sell their crypto for fiat currency, like dollars and pounds, before using it. Feroz said the new partnership with Visa, however, aims to make spending digital currency as easy as a swiping a regular debit card.

"You can take it to a shop and buy a cup of coffee in the same way that you would do with your bank account debit card," Feroz said.

Feroz said he hopes the new card would promote different uses for crypto, which has mostly been used as an investment vehicle.

"A lot of people hold crypto and they would like to every now and then use that, whether it be profits or to liquidate those assets. What we are trying to do is find a way for them to make it easier, quicker, simpler to spend that money," Feroz said.

But some worry fees on the card will dissuade users from using it at a time when no- and low-fee cards are the rule. The card charges a 2.5 percent cryptocurrency liquidation fee on each transaction, plus 0.2 percent transaction fees for purchases made within the European Economic Area and 3 percent elsewhere. Bank-issued Visa cards don't typically charge any transaction fees, at least not in their home markets, according to CNN.

Feroz argued it's actually cheaper to use the card ー with all of its fees ー than it is to liquidate crypto in other ways. And he said the company is working toward trimming costs as the program scales.

"We want to deliver good value for our customers, so if we can find efficiencies and ways to reduce that cost we will," Feroz said.

For full interview click here.