Startup Aims to Bridge Gap between Bitcoin and Offline Payments (April 8, 2014)
Often lost amid the regulatory and legal controversy surrounding Bitcoin and other digital payments is a somewhat more practical issue; it’s just hard to spend the stuff in the real, offline world. But a Hong Kong-based startup wants to change that with what it’s touting as the world’s first global Bitcoin-to-cash ATM and debit card. Dubbed Crytpex Card, the platform enables users to quickly convert bitcoins into local currency loaded onto a payment card issued by an affiliate of UnionPay. The card can subsequently be used to make purchases or ATM cash withdrawals in 80 countries around the world—including anywhere Discover is accepted, via UnionPay’s reciprocal acceptance agreement with Shanghai-based UnionPay.
“Bitcoin ATMs are sparsely located and Bitcoin exchanges make withdrawal a burdensome affair,” noted Jamon Rahm, co-founder of Cryptex Inc., the company behind the card. “We are vastly increasingly liquidity and convenience for holders of Bitcoin.” And given the recent high-profile implosion of the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange—which led to hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for users—Bitcoin holders could feel safer handling their own cash conversions.
The Cryptex Card will be available for order online in four to six weeks, and the requisite AML and KYC processes for each country served are built into the application process, according to the company. Once the card is in-hand, users can load it from their Bitcoin wallets; the process currently takes less than 24 hours, but Cryptex is aiming to fully automate the process this summer, which will enable near-instant conversions.