Users of electronic cash protocol Bitcoin might soon have another way to access and spend funds. During a recent IRC chat with BitInstant co-founder Charlie Shrem, it was revealed that his company was 6-8 weeks away from launching a Bitcoin-funded international debit / credit card that will be issued by two unnamed major banks: one international and one domestic.
Update (8.22): A spokesperson from MasterCard sent us the following statement, making it clear that the company is not currently involved or participating in the launch of a Bitcoin credit card.
"MasterCard has no relationship with BitInstant. There are issuers who allow the conversion of Bitcoins to US dollars and other currencies, delivered on prepaid cards. However, we're not aware of this particular programme from BitInstant."
Coding in My Sleep notes the card will function like a regular debit or credit account and should be accepted wherever MasterCard is accepted – virtually everywhere. The first 1,000 cards will be given away for free but after those have been spoken for, expect to pay around $10 for a card.
Shrem says that each card will have a QR code on the front that can be scanned to complete transactions under $1,000 and a printed address on the back bearing the user’s Bitcoin Address. Expect to pay a 1 percent fee to fund the card and a $1.50 ATM withdrawal fee.
Since the card will be issued by major banks, users will have to adhere to local laws and regulations including proof of identification. This, of course, would effectively do away with the anonymous aspect that typically comes with Bitcoin usage.
We’re still waiting on an official announcement from BitInstant with regards to the card but in the meantime, we’d like to know if you use Bitcoin and if so, what are your thoughts about the service as a whole?