Thursday , 22 March 2018

Visa discontinues Bitcoin Debit Cards in Europe

A great many of Visa’s cryptocurrency debit cards have ceased working today as the company ended its relationship with a debit card provider called WaveCrest. Affected cards are those issued by WaveCrest, including products from CryptoPay, Bitwala, TenX, Wirex and others.The company will refund any remaining balances, as well as card order fees for anyone who purchased a card after Dec. 1, 2017.

Seemingly overnight, Visa, acting via WaveCrest, has put an end to cryptocurrency cards. The prepaid cards, which have become extremely popular in the crypto community, provide a means of indirectly paying for goods and services using cryptocurrency. The cards are a means of bridging the gap between the fiat and crypto worlds, preventing hodlers from needing to cash out to spend their digital assets.

According to BitPay:

“Yesterday our European BitPay Card issuer WaveCrest Holdings, Ltd. received direction from Visa® to immediately close all accounts of its prepaid Visa® debit card programs. The BitPay Card (non-US) is one of these programs, along with other cryptocurrency-related and standard prepaid Visa® debit cards. Unfortunately, WaveCrest was unable to provide us or cardholders with more time to prepare for this change.”

Bitwala and Wirex have already issued their statements on Visa’s decision this Friday. Both companies reiterated the fact that neither Visa nor WaveCrest have given them enough warning to prepare for the hasty discontinuation of service. Moreover, they claim that the users’ money is safe, and will be refunded in due time.

Berlin-based Bitwala said on Twitter that its team was holding an emergency meeting to discuss the issue. However, London-based Cryptopay announced in a subsequent tweet that it had already begun negotiating with another card issuer.

Similarly, BitPay said in its statement that it was “already in discussions with potential alternative issuers.”

Notably, the shutdowns is limited to European consumers. BitPay stated that U.S. customers would not experience any disruptions.

In a statement, a Visa Europe spokesperson said WaveCrest had lost its membership with the payments company “due to non-compliance with [its] operating rules.” As a result, all Visa cards issued by the company were closed.

Other Visa card issuers can continue to issue cryptocurrency-based cards.

Less than a year ago, BitPay announced it was expanding to 131 countries at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2017 conference. Its cards allow users to fill their balances with cryptocurrencies, but spend in euros, British pounds, or U.S. dollars.

In a statement, WaveCrest CEO Brent Almeida said:

“We have already notified our partners and cardholders of Visa’s requirement to close these accounts and our first priority is to ensure the safe and timely return of all funds. We deeply regret the inconvenience that this has caused to all of our customers affected by this decision. WaveCrest’s business outside of its Visa membership remains unaffected and we continue to invest in delivering world-class B2B payment solutions to partners around the world.”

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