Those of you who have been around the Bitcoin block a time or two have probably heard of, and even used, BitInstant. BitInstant is a service that provides the ability to transfer funds between Bitcoin and governmental currencies much more quickly than would otherwise be possible. They’re also well known for certain transaction types not offered anywhere else, such as the ability to buy BTC with cash at thousands of locations across the United States, and the similarly unprecedented ability to withdraw bitcoins to scam-ladenPayPal. A few hours ago, Charlie Shrem confirmed in a conversation on IRC that they’re 6 to 8 weeks away from launching the biggest Bitcoin breakthrough in recent history: A bitcoin-funded international debit/credit card.
I’ll paste the entire contents of the IRC conversation at the end of this post, but here’s the basic breakdown so far:
- The card will function as a standard debit/credit card and should be accepted anywhere that accepts MasterCard, even internationally.
- The first 1,000 or so will be given away for free, subsequent cards will cost an unknown, but fairly low, amount of money – Mr. Shrem thinks about $10.
- Funding the card will cost roughly a 1% fee.
- Each card will bear a QR code on the front and a printed address on the back for funding.
- There will be an option to hold your card balance in BTC until the card is used to make a payment or withdrawal.
- Transactions under $1,000 will be funded after the first confirmation, not the standard 6. Transactions over $1,000 were not discussed.
- The cards themselves will be issued by “a major international bank” that BitInstant has teamed up with. This of course means that the traditional AML or other local laws & regulations for obtaining a bank account, such as proof of identity, will apply as per your jurisdiction.
- You own the address on the card, though BitInstant has not yet determined the best way to hand over your private keys, or whether they should even offer such an option.
- Update: There is now a signup form for the first cards going out. I assume there will be something more official on BitInstant’s site in time, but for now this Google form has been made available by Mr. Shrem in the meantime.