Uber is facing strong opposition in Buenos Aires, where the company has been operating since mid-April without a permit or tax-identification number. The massively funded startup is being sued by taxi unions. City officials have issued multiple injunctions attempting to bring its service to a halt. And credit card companies have been blocked from processing Uber payments on locally registered cards.
It takes more than that to stop Uber, however.
The ride-hailing company is working with bitcoin startup Xapo to circumvent the credit card roadblock, one of its more pressing barriers to service in Argentina. Xapo helps consumers buy, store, and spend bitcoin, a virtual currency. One of the ways it does this is with the Xapo card, a Visa-branded debit card that allows its holders to spend their bitcoin with any merchant who accepts Visa.
That Xapo’s card uses bitcoin is beside the point to Uber in Argentina. (In fact, the company said in a statement that it does not accept bitcoin as a currency.) What matters instead is that the card isn’t issued locally, but out of Gibraltar, and therefore not blocked from accepting Uber payments under the city’s regulations. By the same logic, someone traveling to Argentina