Bitwage is announcing that it will be partnering with Xapo, a bitcoin debit card provider, to release the Bitwage International Debit card. This international payroll debit card service is the first of its kind.
This debit card will allow employees and contractors using Bitwage’s bitcoin payroll service to withdraw United States Dollars, Euros, and British Pounds “directly from the blockchain.” Employees working outside of the US, Europe, and the UK will be able to use the Bitwage-Xapo debit card to withdraw in their local currencies as well. Due to Xapo’s broad service area, Bitwage will be able to offer this unique debit card service to over 170 countries.
Bitwage aims to compete with traditional international payroll services with its new debit card by using the blockchain to significantly lower transaction costs. On average, international payments cost 8% and take between 5 to 7 business days to process. When a company has multiple international employees, the difficulty and cost attached to traditional payment services is multiplied. According to Bitwage, using the old services “is just a plain mess to deal with.”
The Bitwage International Debit Card is meant to cut through this hassle. By using bitcoin as the intermediary for international payments, employers can take advantage of the low costs associated with sending money over the blockchain. Furthermore, the fact that employees can use their debit cards to withdraw in their local currencies ensures that both employer and employee get the best of both worlds. Employers get the low cost of the blockchain, and employees can still have the convenience of using widely accepted local currencies.
Jonathan Chester, Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Bitwage, told Bitcoinist,
“It’s all about usability. Many international employees and freelancers have been leveraging Bitcoin through our system, not because of speculation, but because they just wanted a better way to receive their wages. Not only does partnering with Xapo allow employees and freelancers around the world to use their Bitcoin wages with everyday merchants, but this debit card allows mainstream employers, employees and freelancers to reap the benefits of the blockchain while having easy access to local fiat currency.”
Bitwage debit card users can also choose to spend their money in terms of bitcoin. If users decide to spend with bitcoin rather than withdraw fiat, they will have the convenience of using a debit card over a mobile wallet. Bitwage claims that using mobile wallets “at a point of sale is often a clumsy and awkward process.” Bitcoiners will either have to wait for the cashier’s wallet application, as well as their own, to load, or they will end up going somewhere that does not accept bitcoin.
Bitwage claims that its debit card offers a solution to both of these inconveniences. Since users will have a card, they will not have to use a wallet application for each purchase. Because of Bitwage’s partnership with Xapo, users can pre-load bitcoin into their Xapo wallets, which will be debited after each purchase using the Bitwage card. Furthermore, Xapo’s utilization of existing credit card infrastructures will allow Bitwage debit card users to spend bitcoin at places that do not accept the currency. When making a purchase with the card, the user’s bitcoin will immediately be converted to fiat, and will be sent to the merchant’s bank to be processed as a normal credit card transaction.
Unfortunately, due to Xapos inability to ship its debit cards to the United States, the Bitwage International Debit Card will not be available to people in the US. Bitwage says that the cards will still work in the US, though, so anyone visiting the country will be able to make purchases with their Bitwage debit cards.
The initial launch will be a beta phase of the new service. Anyone who signs up for this beta will receive the Bitwage International Debit card for free. People can sign up for a debit card at Bitwage’s website.
What do you think about the Bitwage International Debit Card? Let us know in the comments below!
Evan is the Senior Editor of Bitcoin.com. He has a bachelor's degree in History with minors in Economics and Political Science. When he's not acting like he knows what he's doing in the newsroom, Evan is most likely playing video games. Follow Evan on Twitter @EvanFaggart.
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