US-based virtual currency exchange and wallet operator Coinbase has rolled out the country's first bitcoin debit card, in an effort to encourage mainstream adoption of the cryptocurrency on the high street.
The Shift Card is a Visa debit card that currently allows Coinbase users in twenty-four states in the US to spend bitcoin online and offline at over 38 million merchants worldwide. The company says it is working through the legal and regulatory process in other states to make it available nationwide.
Coinbase has partnered with startup Shift Payments to produce the card, which aims to provide a single way to integrate all customer accounts on a single piece of plastic to spend virtual and traditional currencies anywhere major payment cards are accepted. The company, which raised $120,000 in seed funding in July, has already secured a relationship for hosting Dwolla accounts.
For bitcoin, the card uses the Coinbase Connect platform to automatically debit funds from cardholders' virtual wallets for each transaction. Prices are matched on the current spot price of bitcoin on the Coinbase exchange platform.
Coinbase currently claims over 2.8 million users of its digital wallet across the globe, with the majority using it to deal speculatively. Just 20% of transaction conducted through the wallet are for everyday currency transactions.
The new card comes with a $10 price tag and Coinbase says that "for a limited time" there are no other fees levied on the use of plastic.