One would assume that the Wirecard debit card scandal, as well as the celebrity marketed, Central Card debacle of 2018 would have dented consumer trust in crypto-based card offerings. However, evidence points to a growing demand, and a potential escalation in competition in the crypto card arena as Binance, US based rewards platform, Fold, and a slew of other Fintech firms readycard-based payment products.
Debit Card Payments have long been touted as one of the key vehicles to driving digital asset adoption and use. Uptake has been slow, however, owing to early crypto debit cards scandals and a number of failed token sale’s from projects who promised to bridge the gap between digital assets and the incumbent economic system.
Wirecard, is one of the more infamous digital asset based debit card offerings from our recent past. The German digital payment services firm, Wirecard AG, has been dogged by allegations of accounting wizardry since inception. It turned out – following a series of Financial Times published investigative reports, along with allegations from whistleblowers, internal documents, and public outcry – that Wirecard’s bean-counters had really been cooking the books crisp.
The Wirecard scandal does not seem to have put a damper on general crypto debit card enthusiasm though. This possibly indicates a growing lack of confidence in legacy financial systems, with members of the global public looking for simpler ways to interact with their cryptographic value.
Probably recognizing the growing trend of crypto debit card adoption, top international payment rail providers, Visa and MasterCard have both begun to embrace digital asset firms looking to issue debit card services. Visa inducted San Francisco, USA, based Bitcoin loyalty rewards startup, Fold into it’s Fast Track Program, which leads to a Fold/Visa co-branded debit card for Bitcoin spending.
MasterCard, not to be out-done, on July 20th announced the expansion of their Cryptocurrency Card Programme, and issued a call for digital asset service companies to apply for partnership. The first crypto firm to come away with a MasterCard co-branded piece of plastic was Wirex, a London, UK, based crypto-banking service.
“We are very excited for Wirex to be the first crypto-native company granted principal membership from Mastercard.” – Pavel Matveev, CEO, Wirex. “It represents a growing interest and recognition in the acceptance of cryptocurrency by leading bodies and regulators and will help us to realize our vision of empowering everyone to experience a world where all currencies, traditional and crypto, are equal.” Matveev expanded on the matter.
Also vying for digital asset payment card supremacy is digital asset exchange/wallet cum pseudo-bank, Binance, with their acquisition of multi-asset payment platform, SWIPE. The relationship spawned the Binance Card product, which should be ready for public release, sometime in the near future.
According to Crypto Wisser there are about 36 digital asset focused debit card issuers in existence today, but recent global socioeconomic developments suggest that the scene is about to become more competitive.
The cryptocurrency payment card industry, much like the digital assets they are meant to be a conduit for, have seen a rocky beginning, pockmarked with controversies. However, the global economic situation, along with the fact that payment cards represent a convenient way of accessing and interacting with value in transactional settings, means that the limelight, once again, is shining on debit cards as the quickest route to the wide adoption of digital assets.