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BitInstant confirms Bitcoin card plans

23 August 2012  |  7893 views  |  0 golden egg

Virtual currency transfer provider BitInstant has confirmed that it intends to launch a Bitcoin debit card within the next two months, despite MasterCard recently denying its involvement in the project.

Details of the plans first emerged on Sunday when the Coding In My Sleep site published the transcript of a chat involving BitInstant co-founder Charlie Shrem.

Shrem revealed that he is working with one unnamed domestic bank and one international on the branded 'Paycard' that users could load up with Bitcoins and then withdraw real world currencies.

Each card would include a QR code on the front and a printed address on the back which would be used to load Bitcoins, with BitInstant charging a one per cent fee. The first 1000 cards would be given away free with all subsequent ones costing $10.

During the chat, Shrem posted a mock-up image of the card which featured the MasterCard logo, prompting the latter to issue a statement distancing itself from the plans.

"MasterCard has no relationship with BitInstant. There are issuers who allow the conversion of Bitcoins to US dollars and other currencies, delivered on prepaid cards. However, we're not aware of this particular programme from BitInstant."

Now, BitInstant has posted its own statement confirming the card is set to launch within two months and explaining the MasterCard confusion: "This is because formal negotiations are in progress with the MasterCard affiliate partners prior to full MasterCard submission.

"BitInstant's partners, who are issuing the card, have been working with MasterCard for many years, and the specific relationship will be between these partners and MasterCard (not directly between MasterCard and BitInstant)."

The statement also seeks to allay any KYC and AML-related fears about a card associated with a virtual currency that counts anonymity as one of its major selling points: "These will not be "anonymous" debit cards, but rather a highly convenient means for verified customers to spend Bitcoin value around the world."

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