The bitcoin wallet and exchange company Coinbase is now providing its services in 26 countries, and has pledged to increase that number to 30 countries by 2016. Customers have traditionally been required to connect to a bank account in order to send fiat currency into their exchange account when they wanted to buy bitcoins. The process usually took a few days, making it a less than convenient way to participate in the digital currency marketplace.
Now, Coinbase allows users to accept Visa, Mastercard, and Maestro cards to instantly purchase bitcoins without having to connect to a bank. This is a much quicker and painless process for the customers, and allows bitcoin purchases to happen without any inconvenient delays. That increase in convenience and accessibility could represent yet another important step in the ongoing effort to gain more general acceptance of cryptocurrency by the public at large.
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Coinbase, founded in June 2012, is a bitcoin wallet and exchange company located in San Francisco, California. Founded by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, Coinbase allows people to exchange bitcoin for fiat currencies and vice versa – and has received $106 million in VC funding to date. Coinbase just announced that it now operates in 26 countries, where customers can instantly buy bitcoin.
While this capability represents but a step in the direction toward easier accessibility to digital currency markets, it is a positive development for the industry. Most experts recognize that every positive development that increases public awareness of and access to cryptocurrency brings the world one step closer to full acceptance of currencies such as Bitcoin and DNotes.
Beginning in October 2012, customers could convert their fiat money into Coinbase through a bank transfer that required them to enter their bank information. Coinbase received a first round of funding of $5 million, and by 2014 the company’s customer base had grown to 1 million users. Coinbase also formed business partnerships with Overstock, Dell, Expedia, Dish Network, Time Inc., and Wikipedia to empower those companies to start accepting bitcoin payments.
Coinbase then was able to add bitcoin payment processing capabilities for companies like Stripe, Braintree, and PayPal. Later in January 2015, Coinbase received more funding – this time $75 million – which included investments from the New York Stock Exchange, creating enormous buzz at the time. Other investors included several banks and USAA. Later that month, the company created even more buzz by launching a bitcoin exchange based out of the U.S.
Now Coinbase supports 3D Secure credit and debit cards, which free customers from the need to pre-fund their Coinbase accounts through bank transfers. This allows customers to receive bitcoin a lot more quickly. The Visa 3D protocol that forces customers to validate their identity by punching in a password is now used by most banks in Europe. This new system is quicker and more convenient than the former process, though it does still entail a 3% fee per transaction.
According to Coinbase’s website, no other cards besides Visa, Mastercard, and Maestro can be accepted at this time, and all purchases must be at least £1. Customers located in Liechtenstein and Slovenia are now able to buy and sell on the platform, but they are still not able to use the instant functionality and have to rely on SEPA transfers instead.
Coinbase’s current mission is to expand its services to even more countries, and the company has plans to service a total of 30 countries by 2016. Obviously, that still represents but a fraction of the world’s countries, but the trend toward broader access remains an encouraging development as digital currency continues to work to gain the world’s trust and acceptance.