The Bitcoin payroll startup Bitwage has taken a step towards mainstream acceptance with the introduction of a new service that allows employers to pay bitcoin funds directly into workers debit and credit cards. This adds a whole new level of functionality that will aid wider acceptance and bring Bitcoin further into the mainstream. Is this the direction that will ultimately see not just Bitcoin but the wider Digital Currency industry gain traction as a viable alternative for many currency uses?
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Bitwage is a digital currency startup payroll business that allows employers to pay workers using bitcoin funding, initially through bitcoin itself or via wire transfers. They have just announced a deal with a merchant acquirer to allow them to add a new payment option for workers, allowing them to have wages paid directly to debit and credit cards. The system allows international payments that are much faster and with significantly reduced fees compared to traditional bank transfers and other solutions, and has targeted the expanding online freelancer communities in particular as a much more efficient way to pay and be paid for these projects.
The addition of payments direct to cards makes this process even more convenient and cost effective for both payers and recipients, and allows bitcoin to seamlessly transfer into spendable wages for the end user. There are some limitations, the maximum transfer to a card per month is $500, although there is no limit on the amount money that can be paid into the receiver’s Bitwage account itself, but as a first step it meets the needs of many of the intended customer base.
The question that is often asked about cryptocurrencies is how easy is it to get them and spend them, and this has been probably the biggest barrier to a broader acceptance of the technology than anything else. This is perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Bitwage system now, even at this early fund limiting stage, as it answers these questions very succinctly. You work, a client or employer pays you in bitcoin direct to your card, and you spend it just as you do fiat money wherever the card is accepted. That is, in all measurable ways, as simple as it gets for the end user.
Of course, the transfer to card still relies on the conversion of bitcoin into the local fiat currency for the recipient, so in that sense digital currencies are still lacking a complete end to end solution, but as a vehicle for validating the integrity and reliability of the cryptocurrency model to a wider audience it has everything. There is still a way to go before we see any digital currency being the only form of currency someone needs, but this system is definitely a step along that journey.