Paying with Bitcoin: Resolving the Cryptocurrency Usability Dilemma

Executive Brief

While the number of businesses and stores that accept Bitcoin payments is increasing with each passing month, the ability to freely spend digital currency in everyday life is still restricted. To combat this obstacle, a number of companies have offered Visa or MasterCard debit cards linked to a digital currency wallet to allow conversion to fiat money on the fly. This allows you to spend digital currency as you would any fiat currency, or use ATMs to withdraw cash.

However, a significant issue has been the restriction on availability, since these cards cannot currently be shipped to US addresses. Efforts to resolve that obstacle are presently underway, and may offer at least a partial solution to that limitation.

Read the full story below. 

One of the major issues preventing widespread adoption of digital currencies like Bitcoin is the current complexity involved in utilizing cryptocurrency in the same way that we use fiat currency. As many commentators have noted, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of businesses and organizations that accept digital currency as payment, and that is a necessary and welcome trend. Still, that alone does not and cannot offer the ubiquitous public acceptance that cryptocurrency will need to one day be as well-regarded as today’s fiat money. And until that acceptance is achieved, the perception of digital currency will continue to be shaped by the need to constantly exchange one type of currency for another using a process that remains anything but elegant. Fortunately, some progress is finally being made in that area.

Several companies have begun to offer a debit card linked to a digital currency wallet. These cards are VISA compliant, and allow fast transfer of funds between the digital currency wallet and conversion to fiat currency on the card. The card can then be used just like every other debit card to pay for goods or withdraw funds at a normal ATM. This provides a solution to one half of the digital currency conundrum - getting it and using it to pay for things. However, the availability of these cards remains limited, with some countries simply not having access to the cards. Worse, the list of countries lacking access to this option includes Bitcoin’s biggest market, the United States.

In an attempt to overcome this obstacle, the same debit cards are being offered in a virtual format. Instead of receiving tangible cards, these cardholders are issued VISA card numbers in a digital format, which they can then use to make purchases via the phone or through online portals. Obviously, these digital cards cannot be utilized in the same way that physical cards are used at ATMs or in physical stores, but they do offer a solution that can help millions of people gain greater access to cryptocurrency spending power. So while this may not be a complete solution to the usefulness dilemma, it is at least a step in the right direction.

Author: Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore is a writer and researcher with a love for the eclectic, family and the world we inhabit. He spends his spare time photographing the varied wildlife that surrounds us daily and contemplating why Firefly never made it past season one.

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