San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has become the first “pure” cryptocurrency firm to become a Visa principal member.
The membership was, according to Forbes, officially awarded in December 2019, but it wasn’t revealed to the public until today via a blog post published by the exchange itself. The membership will allow Coinbase to cut expensive middlemen when it comes to the issuance of its debit card, which lets users pay with cryptocurrency wherever Visa is accepted.
Notably, the principal membership also gives coinbase the power to issue debit cards for other companies, although the cryptocurrency exchange claimed it isn’t planning to issue them for others anytime soon. Visa, Forbes reports, has confirmed it granted Coinbase the principal membership, but clarified the firm itself isn’t accepting cryptocurrencies.
Using the membership, Coinbase is set to issue a new version of the Coinbase Visa card, which was initially launched in April 2019 with the financial services firm Paysafe Group Holdings, which charges a fee for its service. This new version could reduce the fees Coinbase’s card is currently charging users as it cuts the middlemen. If fees are reduced, existing card holders will have to re-apply to receive a new card.
Zeeshan Feroz, CEO of Coinbase UK, which received the membership, noted that users’ BTC holdings have always been seen as illiquid “because you have to sell them, you have to go through a process, withdraw the money, and then spend it.” The card’s goal, he said, is to change that:
What the card is trying to change is the mindset that crypto is tucked away, takes two days to access, and can actually now be spent in real time.
The Coinbase Visa card isn’t available to U.S. residents and won’t be in the foreseeable future. It is, however, available in 29 countries including Denmark ,Estonia, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, and the U.K. IT lets users spend nine cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash, Brave’s BAT, litecoin, and others.
With the membership, Coinbase could make fees charged to companies outside the cryptocurrency space in payments made with its card a new source of revenue, one that depends less on crypto price fluctuations. Feroz acknowledged it’s a possibility, but revealed it’s currently not a part of the firm’s plan as its “primary focus” is to build its services.
Featured image via Pixabay.