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article imageBitcoin debit card nearly a reality

By James Walker     Apr 28, 2014 in Technology
The first ever debit card to allow the transaction of Bitcoins in stores is set to hit the US market very soon, facilitating the usage of Bitcoin in more traditional, everyday scenarios where currency is used.
Xapo, the well known Bitcoin wallet provider, says that it will be providing the first Bitcoin debit card for use in US stores supporting ordinary Visa or MasterCard cards within the next two months. Though which payment network will be used is still being decided, MasterCard is currently the primary candidate.
The company is going to become a certified debit card issuer on one of the major card networks, which means that they are fully qualified and allowed to issue a standard debit card with unique card number and expiration data. Users will be able to acquire a card number for free but Xapo will charge $15 to facilitate the usage of the currency through its network in real stores.
Xapo's founder, Wences Casares, said while explaining the process "You just have one card that you can use everywhere without restrictions." The card works by checking with Xapo on your remaining Bitcoin balance which then approves or declines the transaction, selling the digital currency for the best price on the Bitstamp Bitcoin exchange in the process.
The process is legal in the US because of the security restrictions and measures that Xapo checks on before enabling users to create an account - you must provide proof of residency and identification.
Bitcoin debit cards will enable the currency to become more accessible to the less technically minded as it will appear to be a standard payment model that people are used to - insert your card, enter your PIN. Currently, the only way to transact with Bitcoin is to email your entire, long Bitcoin address or to scan a QR code. Having a debit card will make transactions in real high-street stores much more feasible although services such as Gyft already allow for the purchase of prepaid Bitcoin cards for peer-to-peer gifting. These, however, are a less than perfect solution to using Bitcoin in the real world and Xapo's announcment today looks to be much more feasible for the majority of people.
If you want, you can sign up in advance to show your interest in receiving a Xapo card upon launch on the company's web page now.
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