Could bitcoin soon be everywhere consumers want to be?
Coinbase has officially rolled out the first U.S.-issued bitcoin debit card called the Shift Card. This Visa-branded debit card will enable Coinbase users across 24 U.S. states to use a card to spend bitcoin at 38 million merchants worldwide — both online and off.
“Merchant adoption has come a long way over the past few years, but it’s still difficult for people to make regular purchases with bitcoin. Buying gas at a local gas station or groceries at a neighborhood grocery store with bitcoin has not been possible in most cities in the U.S. Thanks to Shift Payments, it’s now possible to use bitcoin to buy gas, groceries and much more. With the Shift Card, you can now spend bitcoin anywhere in the world that Visa is accepted,” Coinbase wrote in its blog post about the news.
The Shift Card is now available to ship to Coinbase users in the 24 eligible states; it can be ordered through a Coinbase account and costs $10 (in bitcoin). For the initial rollout, there are no fees for merchant transactions in the U.S. A fee may be established eventually to offset the bitcoin conversion costs.
CEO and Founder of Coinbase Brian Armstrong, in recent interviews, has been extra bullish about bitcoin’s future.
In fact, Armstrong went as far as saying that “bitcoin could surpass the dollar as reserve currency within 10–15 years.”
This comes at a time when bitcoin has made big headlines internationally, with banks such as France’s BNP Paribas saying that they are looking into how to use bitcoin within their currency funds. The bank said it has been testing the digital currency and told International Business Times that it plans to report the results of its tests soon.
Bitcoin, of course, gets most of its criticism because of its connection to criminal activity and its volatility of prices, but Armstrong has also been a strong proponent that bitcoin could wade through the volatility issues. The year 2015 has been a relatively stable year for bitcoin’s prices, with price variations going more on the upward trend than downward.
“Volatility is a self-correcting problem, and we’ve seen that as it’s dropped in the last three years, year on year,” Armstrong said in an interview late last year. “I foresee it continuing to do that over the next few years.”