Blockchain and Crypto, Member Exclusive

Building the primary financial account of the cryptoeconomy, Coinbase launches a debit card

  • For crypto to become more mainstream, the set of technologies needs to become easier to use.
  • Coinbase is launching a debit card that lets users spend crypto just by swiping.
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Building the primary financial account of the cryptoeconomy, Coinbase launches a debit card

Coinbase is launching Coinbase Card in the U.S.

The product: Starting today, Coinbase customers in the U.S. can join the waitlist for Coinbase Card, a Visa debit card that lets customers spend cryptocurrency wherever Visa debit cards are accepted. The card automatically converts cryptocurrency to US Dollars for purchases and ATM withdrawals. The Coinbase Card offers up to 4% back in rewards on all purchases. Customers can choose from either 1% rewards in Bitcoin (BTC) or 4% rewards in Stellar Lumens (XLM).

Why this matters: The technical challenge in buying, holding and selling cryptocurrency has acted as a hurdle for more mass adoption of crypto as a means to transact. The launch of a debit card on top of crypto holdings is a big step forward for real-world application of cryptocurrency. Coinbase debit card holders can spend directly from their Coinbase accounts without moving funds to their bank accounts.

Cryptocurrency firms continue to develop products and services to make digital currencies more accessible to the public. Last month, Kraken, a popular cryptocurrency exchange, was the first cryptocurrency exchange to receive a state bank license. This new license from the state of Wyoming will enable Kraken to take dollar deposits.

Going forward: The first customers for Coinbase Card will be approved this winter. Once customers are approved, they can spend immediately with a virtual card and will receive a physical card in the mail within two weeks.

coinbase debit card
Source: Coinbase

Tearsheet asked Max Branzburg, vp of product at Coinbase, a couple of questions about the new product over email.

Why launch a card?

Branzburg: We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to manage their cryptocurrencies all in one place -- whether it’s to invest, save, send to friends and family, or pay merchants. Coinbase Card enables our customers to go beyond investing and start spending cryptocurrency in the real world, while earning attractive rewards back.

Coinbase Card makes cryptocurrency more widely accessible and useful, while also removing friction from the core experience for existing customers. For existing customers who previously had to sell their assets, withdraw cash to their bank account, and then spend on a bank card after 3-5 days of processing, they can now instantly spend directly from their Coinbase account - and earn rewards back for it. For new customers, starting a cryptocurrency investment portfolio is now as simple as converting USD into USDC, spending on your Coinbase Card, and earning cryptocurrency rewards back up to 4%. 

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Building on Coinbase’s trust, security, and ease-of-use, the Coinbase Card now enables customers to spend cryptocurrencies at the millions of merchants worldwide that accept Visa debit cards. All of the complexities of the underlying cryptocurrency technology are abstracted away from customers and merchants, so a Coinbase Card purchase feels like any other debit card swipe.

Does Coinbase want to offer a more complete digital banking offering?

Branzburg: Coinbase is building the primary financial account of the cryptoeconomy -- the single place where customers can manage and grow their wealth with crypto-enabled financial services, from investing to saving, borrowing, and paying.

Coinbase Card represents another step towards more universally accessible and useful financial services enabled by cryptocurrency. For example, customers can now save in USDC and earn a high-yield APY, spend for free on the Coinbase Card, and earn up to 4% cryptocurrency rewards back with each purchase, enabling them to add to or start building a cryptocurrency portfolio without any upfront costs. Existing customers can also reduce the wait time required to spend their funds by enabling them to spend directly from their Coinbase account (previously customers may have had to wait up to 3-5 days for banks to process withdrawals before they could spend).

Making cryptocurrency more widely accessible and useful is core to our mission of creating an open financial system for the world. As we’ve seen with USDC Rewards, Staking, and Earn, the unique attributes of cryptocurrency have enabled Coinbase to build a powerful home for customers to manage, grow, and use their funds - above and beyond what the traditional financial system can offer.

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