Picking up groceries at Woolies or Coles, or grabbing a takeaway coffee? Just whip out your bank card and pay for it – with cryptocurrency.
As interest in Bitcoin and other crypto skyrockets, the use of these digital currencies are evolving from being just a speculative investment to becoming real money people use in their everyday lives.
Digital payment giants Mastercard and Visa have begun throwing their support behind physical bank cards that let people around the world – including Aussies – shop online, pay bills, transfer friends and ‘tap and go’ while out and about.
Though just years ago it would have been laughable to consider paying for your takeaway meal in virtual currency, ‘tap and go’ with Bitcoin is a trend that looks likely to keep growing in the years to come.
"We are preparing right now for the future of crypto and payments,” Mastercard declared in February.
“We are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value – traditional or crypto – however they want. It should be your choice, it’s your money.”
Here’s a rundown of the platforms already offering digital and physical cards allowing Aussies to pay in crypto.
Crypto bank cards: What you need to know first
The first thing you need to know is that there are different types of bank cards. That is, some offer real physical cards, while others offer only virtual cards (meaning you can shop online but can’t use it at an ATM to cash out, for instance), according to Finder.
Then there are prepaid cards that let you load crypto onto your card before you spend it, and non-prepaid cards, which are linked to a cryptowallet and convert money on the spot when you buy something.
There are also crypto credit and debit cards, the former allowing you to create a line of credit and works like a typical credit card except you can redeem crypto instead of points. However, these types of credit cards aren’t yet available in Australia yet, according to CreditCard.com.au.
Then there are certain fees and costs that come with these cards you need to be aware of, including card issuance fees that could be as high as $50, currency conversion fees, ATM withdrawal fees, transaction fees and more, Finder explains. And that’s not even taking into account exchange rates.
Additionally, different cards will operate on different networks, whether it be Visa or Mastercard, meaning some merchants may potentially accept one but not the other.
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CRYPTO BANK CARDS IN AUSTRALIA
Crypto.com Visa Debit Cards
These prepaid debit cards by crypto wallet company Crypto.com have been around for more than a year. You can preload this card with both cryptocurrency or regular fiat currency, and use it how you would use a typical debit card.
It supports more than 20 fiat currencies, including AUD as well as USD, GBP and EUR, and more than 100 cryptocurrencies.
Depending on which tier card you get, it comes with various benefits like subscriptions to Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime and more. However, there’s a cap on how much you can withdraw from ATMs for free, and once you exceed the limit you’ll have to pay a fee of 2 per cent.
What’s the fine print? To apply for Crypto.com’s Visa Debit Cards, you’ll need to “stake” CRO tokens, which are Crypto.com’s native coin on its network, for 180 days.
Essentially, it means you have to basically buy and hold a set amount of Crypto.com’s own crypto tokens for about half a year, before you can qualify for the physical card. You can read more about this via Crypto.com’s Help page.
CoinJar Debit Card
Aussie crypto exchange CoinJar’s card runs on the Mastercard network and works like any other debit card; you can buy items online, tap and go, and cash out at ATMs.
CoinJar’s debit card replaces its previous Swipe Card, which has been around since 2015.
To get the card, you just need to have a CoinJar account. There’s no holding tokens for 180 days; pick a cryptocurrency to ‘spend’, and then CoinJar will convert your crypto into fiat money when you make payments.
The card is also fully supported by Apple Pay and Google Pay, and you can cash out from ATMs where Mastercard is accepted.
What’s the fine print? There aren’t any ongoing fees and card issuance fees for the physical card. You do have to pay a 1 per cent fee for ATM withdrawals and on transactions, and any transactions made in currencies other than AUD will cop a 2.99 per cent transaction fee. CoinJar has more details here.
BTC.com.au ATM/eftpos Card
This is a prepaid debit card that crypto exchange BTC.com.au customers can use at any ATM or eftpos terminal.
Preload your cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, OmiseGO or Ripple) into the card with, and then cash out or spend it anywhere that accepts eftpos.
What’s the fine print? You can only use the card within Australia. Also, BTC.com.au doesn’t offer a wallet service; you’ll have to follow instructions from your crypto wallet to top up the card.
Pleasingly, BTC.com.au don’t charge you a thing; the crypto exchange’s FAQ page flogs this card as “Australia’s most competitive cryptocurrency debit card”.
Coming in September: CryptoSpend Card
CryptoSpend is the brainchild of two Aussie guys who met at university and developed the crypto wallet to let you send, receive and spend Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ripple.
After securing Visa backing, their CryptoSpend Card will launch in September, allowing Aussies to cash out, pay bills, use it anywhere that accepts Visa and do everything that a tap and go card lets you do.
What’s the fine print? There’s no fees, other than the card issuance fee, though CryptoSpend’s FAQ page doesn’t specify what that is.