I am persuaded that the Bitcoin economy should become "real," with less speculation and more use as a currency to buy goods, so I welcome innovations that make spending Bitcoin easy for consumers. Australian company CoinJar unveiled the country's first Bitcoin debit card, which seems especially user-friendly and integrated with the existing Australian payment infrastructure.
The new CoinJar Swipe card can be charged in Bitcoin and will allow users to purchase goods at EFTPOS terminals. The EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) payment network is widespread in Australia and New Zealand.
"We created Swipe because we simply wanted to make it easier for our customers to spend their bitcoin,"
"Swipe demystifies bitcoin and makes it accessible to everyone through a secure platform. Our team is really excited about Swipe, and we look forward to receiving feedback from our customers."
Tan told Mashable that Bitcoin is for people who want ultimate control over their money:
"It is not controlled by a bank or other other third parties, but by a network of computers worldwide backed by strong encryption that verify transactions multiple times to ensure that no fraudulent transactions occur. This means nobody has total control over your money but you."
CoinJar, which raised around AU$500,000 from Blackbird Ventures late last year, estimates that Bitcoin is being used by around 500,000 Australians, with that number growing rapidly, ZDNET reports. CoinJar alone has processed more than 50 million AUD worth of bitcoin transactions in the past 12 months for more than 30,000 individual and business customers, according to the company, which expects a wider rollout of the technology in the "near future."
The CoinJar card will be issued to 100 CoinJar users for initial testing. The company said that customers taking part in the trial will be able to withdraw from their bitcoin accounts, converted to Australian dollars, at any ATM, or purchase items at any retail outlet accepting EFTPOS cards.
Participation in the trial will be offered to select early adopters, everyday consumers, and a wide variety of demographic characteristics. Customers are set to receive their cards from next week. If you are a CoinJar user, you can apply to get early access to the Swipe card and related apps.
"Owning bitcoin is great, but spending it is better. While lots of businesses are starting to take bitcoin, not all do. That's why we’ve created CoinJar Swipe, an EFTPOS card that lets you spend your bitcoin anywhere, anytime. While the bitcoin network offers instant, frictionless transactions, turning bitcoin into cash can be slow and painful (we’re looking at you banks). CoinJar Swipe lets you take your card to any ATM or store that accepts cash-out and turn your bitcoin into cash instantly." (CoinJar)
There are other Bitcoin debit cards, such as the Xapo card, but the new CoinJar product seems especially consumer-friendly. It is fully integrated with Australia's leading electronic payment network, and its relatively low fees will permit avoiding the wave of protest that followed the launch of the Xapo card.
After the trial period, the CoinJar Swipe card will only available to Australian consumers, which doesn't help much those of us who live elsewhere, but I hope that other operators will offer similar products in their home markets.
Images from CoinJar and Shutterstock.