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Bitcoin The Almighty Buck

Coinbase Issues Bitcoin-Based Debit Card (coinbase.com) 52

An anonymous reader writes: Coinbase, one of the largest bitcoin exchanges, introduced a "Shift Card" today, which is a Visa debit card that allows users to spend bitcoin wherever Visa is accepted within 24 U.S. states (other states are blocked by regulations for now). The card acts as a currency exchanger, debiting your Coinbase-controlled bitcoin wallet for an appropriate amount of bitcoins, based on market rates, while sending U.S. dollars to the merchant at the other end of the transaction. It represents a very simple way for bitcoin holders to spend it on real-world goods. That said, it'll be interesting to see how much adoption there is. If you prefer to keep full control of your bitcoin wallet, or prefer to keep your name from being attached to it, then the card probably won't work for you. It seems likely that most people who actually own bitcoins would fall into one or both of those categories.
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Coinbase Issues Bitcoin-Based Debit Card

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  • So finally when they "system crashes" on this wallet service, it will be way more convenient for the owners to siphon off and spend all the "lost" currency.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So finally when they "system crashes" on this wallet service, it will be way more convenient for the owners to siphon off and spend all the "lost" currency.

      And appropriately (re)named Shaft Card.

  • by kyubre ( 1186117 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @04:30PM (#50971693)

    Step 1: Integrate with existing payment technology

    Step 2: Replace existing payment technology.

    Bitcoin is perhaps the wrong horse to be riding, but as a proof of concept this is sill interesting.

    • by gox ( 1595435 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @04:42PM (#50971779)

      Actually I think these news prove that debit cards are getting better, rather than saying anything about Bitcoin.

      I have a similar debit card (not Coinbase) which lets me spend out of my Bitcoin wallet, converting on-the-fly to target currency. The Bitcoin side of this is quite straightforward, but I am rather impressed that VISA allows this sort of automation.

      • Why does VISA care? All of the bitcoin stuff is handled on Coinbase's side, only USD touches the credit/debit side of things.

      • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

        I have a similar debit card (not Coinbase) which lets me spend out of my Bitcoin wallet, converting on-the-fly to target currency

        I use Coinbase and will probably be getting the new Shift Card, but I didn't know there were other options available. Can you provide more information?

        • by gox ( 1595435 )

          Outside U.S., there are plenty of options [google.com] available. bit-x does optional on-the-fly Bitcoin to fiat conversion and has a neat system, but others may have better fees and whatnot.

          Within (almost half of) U.S. I suspect Coinbase might actually be the first, but I didn't look too deep.

          • by jdavidb ( 449077 )
            Cool - I'm in the U.S. so that probably wasn't an option for me. I have heard people talking about Bitcoin backed debit cards for a couple years now, but never knew if anything came to market.
    • Step 2: Replace existing payment technology.

      There is no step 2. Bitcoin is a hidden detail, a merchant neither knows nor cares whether a customer's credit card bill will be paid in terms of Euros, Dollars, or Bitcoins. The merchant prices and collects in their local currency and VISA handles everything for them. Bitcoin remains irrelevant to the merchant.

      If anything this deal makes bitcoin subservient and less likely to display current payment technologies. Increased interest in bitcoins by individuals will *not* require merchants to accept bitcoi

      • by kyubre ( 1186117 )

        Today's payment market has three primary entities. Bank, processor, and issuer. Visa and MasterCard are only issuers and rely upon their network to coerce banks and processors to play along. AMEX is 'mostly' vertically integrated combining all three and therefore has had a higher relative value for marketing purposes (because they see and handle every part of every transaction)

        Companies like Square have come in and are disrupting POS with their own network that aggregates and does bulk transactions with

        • by Kremmy ( 793693 )
          Bitcoin is simply another currency in a world where currencies in themselves are becoming abstracted away.
  • Mt Gox (Score:2, Funny)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 )

    Can it seamlessly integrate into my Mt. Gox account?

  • Can the card be personalized with your favorite Magic The Gathering artwork? :-)
    • I'm expecting the stock pile of metal coins with the double-lined B symbol and some circuit-graphics you find illustrating every story on bitcoin. The one that completely misses the point.

  • by brokenin2 ( 103006 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @06:05PM (#50972295) Homepage

    It seems likely that most people who actually own bitcoins would fall into one or both of those categories.

    ...and I don't (completely) fall into either of those categories.
    I don't need to keep absolute control of all my bitcoins all the time (I'll transfer some spending coin to Coinbase periodically), and I'm perfectly fine with my identity being know. I know plenty of people with similar needs.

    I'll probably go get myself one of these cards soon.

  • That's what this sounds like. Great way for certain Sunni extremists to shift money around.
    • That's what I say about cash!
    • That's what this sounds like. Great way for certain Sunni extremists to shift money around.

      Actually given that bitcoin is based on a public ledger that documents each and every transfer of coins, the blockchain, tracing the transfers between accounts and creating a network of relationships is quite trivial. If a transaction touches the real world, a live visit to a merchant, a delivery to an address, a payment for a service, etc there is no anonymity. Any single member of a network who touches the real world can expose the network.

      Bitcoin is an incredible investigatory tool for law enforcement

      • "Actually given that bitcoin is based on a public ledger that documents each and every transfer of coins, the blockchain, tracing the transfers between accounts and creating a network of relationships is quite trivial. If a transaction touches the real world, a live visit to a merchant, a delivery to an address, a payment for a service, etc there is no anonymity. Any single member of a network who touches the real world can expose the network."

        So why is it that when ransomware attackers are paid in bitcoin,

        • "Actually given that bitcoin is based on a public ledger that documents each and every transfer of coins, the blockchain, tracing the transfers between accounts and creating a network of relationships is quite trivial. If a transaction touches the real world, a live visit to a merchant, a delivery to an address, a payment for a service, etc there is no anonymity. Any single member of a network who touches the real world can expose the network."

          So why is it that when ransomware attackers are paid in bitcoin, the transactions are not traceable?

          Convenience. Easiest way to convert between real currencies and transfer money around the world. Rock solid verification of the transfer in a very short amount of time. And the likelihood that law enforcement in their jurisdiction will not care about a petty financial crime in the jurisdiction of the victim.

          • Because ransomware attacks are for money, and target business and in some cases government itself, and involve large numbers of people at once, surely it's NOT being treated as a local problem: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stori... [fbi.gov]

            And the NSA would love to be able to mail a ransomware operation to burnish its battered image. If it could do so, it would.

            • Because ransomware attacks are for money, and target business and in some cases government itself, and involve large numbers of people at once, surely it's NOT being treated as a local problem: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stori... [fbi.gov]

              By different jurisdictions I am referring to different nations, places where the FBI would receive little to no cooperation.

              And the NSA would love to be able to mail a ransomware operation to burnish its battered image. If it could do so, it would.

              No. Why in the world would they potentially compromise their sources and methods on something as petty as ransomeware? The NSA is not law enforcement, they are in the intelligence gathering business. Discovering a petty criminal is something to note in their database, not do anything about.

  • Every time I see a story like this, I have to laugh. Submitted for your approval, a little reading:

    Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model.

    What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.

    This little "bitcoin" debit card with a fooking Visa logo on it just goes to show that bitcoin has become the dragon it was meant to slay.

And on the seventh day, He exited from append mode.

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