Cryptocurrencies as a group have made massive strides with regard to user base and popularity around the globe. In the past decade, the number of cryptocurrencies actively being traded has skyrocketed, with dozens of new currencies hitting the markets and exchanges each year. Along with this growth across the field, there has been a massive increase in cryptocurrency market capitalization, as well as a tremendous increase in the number of users buying, selling, and exchanging these currencies. One way that cryptocurrencies are still hoping to grow, however, is in terms of real-world transactions. So far, most cryptocurrency business is done virtually, i.e. no tangible currency and no cards, which makes it hard to simply walk into a store and buy something with Bitcoin as easily as you would with traditional payment methods. Now, with the advent of cryptocurrency debit cards, these digital currencies could find a practical application for everyday users in the real world.
Like Regular Debit Cards?
The concept behind a cryptocurrency debit card is fairly straightforward. They are tangible, plastic cards, similar in appearance to standard credit or debit cards. That alone might prove to be incentive for many potential users who wish to be able to hold currency (or at least a means of spending a currency) in their hands. Cryptocurrency debit cards were developed for just that purpose: to use digital coins to make day-to-day purchases. One of the biggest issues with spending digital currencies is that there must necessarily be a middle step, at least for the time being. A user must convert those digital currencies into fiat money before being able to spend them in person. A cryptocurrency debit card which could be used just like a standard debit card would be one way of circumnavigating that issue.
Debit Cards Vs. Point-of-Sale Terminals
There are two primary means that cryptocurrency advocates have suggested for dealing with the issue of real-world transactions. The first is a point-of-sale terminal, a piece of hardware that could be installed at a store and which interacts with a customer's mobile wallet app. While this is easy for the consumer, it does require extra initiative and expense on the part of the store owner, making it likely difficult to scale. On the other hand, a cryptocurrency debit card which could be "recharged" with new cryptocurrency funds periodically would capitalize on an existing plastic card infrastructure already in place around the world. If these cards could be used freely where the world's leading credit and debit cards are used, there would be no additional action or expense required of the merchant.
So far, the earliest prototypes of cryptocurrency cards are generally prepaid or debit cards. They have been manufactured by a variety of separate companies, according to reporting by Coin Telegraph. As cryptocurrencies themselves continue to improve--with regard to transaction fees, processing times, and accessibility--watch for cryptocurrency debit cards to gain in popularity as well.