Authors Note: A few users are claiming that the information given by Circle regarding their ability to accept prepaid VISA gift cards may not be valid for all VISA gift cards. Keep this information in mind before deciding to make a purchase decision, and CCN encourages anyone with problems to email Circle’s customer support.
Circle is a hot-button topic on the tongues of all bitcoin users, some even considering the service to be the “killer app” spurring bitcoin adoption. With a well-designed interface and an ease of use process, Circle does seem to cut out all the problems bitcoin users faced with getting their hands on bitcoins before. Circle allows something that competitors don’t as well: buying bitcoin with prepaid VISA gift cards.
In a concise answer to the question can users buy Bitcoin with a prepaid VISA gift card, Circle replied to CCN saying, “Yes you may! Let us know how it goes.”
The importance of this is that users don’t have to link their bank accounts or personal credit cards to the service if they don’t want to, remaining slightly more anonymous than others. In contrast, to buy from Coinbase users have to link their bank account or credit cards, and are unsuccessful using prepaid VISA gift cards.
In Circle’s objectives, they clearly outline their reasoning for making their interface smooth, and the option to use the gift card falls under their philosophy.
“Reduce the friction that so many people – even sophisticated, technology-savvy people – often experience in acquiring and spending Bitcoin. Starting today, people can onboard into a Circle account and begin using digital money within minutes, not days. And Circle eliminates the labyrinth of fees and complex user interfaces designed for traders.”
This option gives a little more power back to the users that want it. Buying Bitcoin through other means normally follows in the footsteps of giving up too much information; something that the fundamentals of bitcoin was built on to oppose. Companies like Coinbase, Vault of Satoshi, BitPay and Circle all have to follow business regulations of the countries they operate in, unfortunately making their consumers divulge more and more information. It’s to no fault of their own; they’re operating under regulations based on old technology.
Circle Holding Private Keys
One of the backbones of bitcoin is having control over private keys. The philosophy is that if you don’t have control over those, you don’t have control or “ownership” over your bitcoins. By using Circle users can buy with a prepaid VISA gift card, but they also must trust Circle to keep their private keys offline, safe and hidden in a possible vault in case of robbery. Circle isn’t the first company to operate like this. Xapo, a popular bitcoin debit card company that’s been repeatedly slammed by customer complaints, also operates on the philosophy that bitcoin users don’t want the responsibility of holding their private keys.
To an extent, that’s true. In order to be a responsible bitcoin-user, one should have a second computer that’s offline at all times. That second computer holds all of your money in cold storage and is only linked to offline transactions. Any money you want to spend is in a hot wallet with the understanding that it’s vulnerable. Technically, one could operate completely out of bitcoin only, and the second computer would act as their personal bank. That responsibility is something that turns most users away and is something that the industry faces today. While some feel as though they must hold their private keys for upmost securities, some people simply don’t want the responsibility.
As social commentary on private keys develop, CCN will be listening to the ground for shifts from the community. Tell us what you think about Circle, prepaid VISAs and Private Keys in our CCN forum.
Photos from Wikipedia and Circle; other images from Shutterstock