Archive for the ‘General Info’ Category

bitwala

The European company Bitwala that provides services for paying bills by transferring Bitcoin to fiat and more recently started offering BTC to PayPal transfers has added a new service – Bitcoin-powered Debit Cards. According to the service the cards should be already available for “Tier 2 verified” customers in the form of a physical or a virtual debit card nominated in Euro. You can order a virtual Bitcoin debit card for 5 EURO or a physical card for 10 Euro with the regular 0.5% percent fee of the service and funds should be credited on the card up 3 business days and often a lot faster according to the information available (during work days it should not take more than a few hours). This means that similar to their BTC to PayPal service the transfer of Bitcoins to your BTC powered debit card will not be immediate and this in the world of crypto currencies is a serious issue. When you want to spend Bitcoins through a debit card that is powered by BTC you will normally want to be able to immediately spend the coins as fiat and not having to wait for up to a few days. Thee are already alternatives for Bitcoin debit cards that we have tried and that offer users to immediately spend their available coins in a wallet or loaded to the card as fiat such as Xapo Bitcoin Debit Card or E-coin Bitcoin Debit Card. Though having more alternatives and different options can be helpful at times, especially in the world of crypto currencies, so this is one more option for a Bitcoin debit card that you can have.

For more information about Bitwala and to try out the service yourself…

shift-card-coinbase

The Bitcoin payment processor Coinbase has just introduced the Shift Card which is essentially a VISA Debit Card that currently allows Coinbase users in twenty-four states in the U.S. (for the moment) to spend Bitcoin online and offline at over 38 million merchants worldwide just like they would with a normal VISA card. With the Shift Card, you can now spend Bitcoin anywhere in the world that VISA is accepted with the amount of BTC coins deducted from your Coinbase account. It seems however that the Shift Card is a partnership with Coinbase and not their own product, so you need to link your account and authorize a payment of the $10 card issuance fee (will be paid in Bitcoins).

Currently the eligible states where users can apply for a Shift Card are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. With a beta test for California that is limited to the first 1000 applicants​. Other states can be added later on, so if you are interested in the product you might want to keep an eye on the list.

By default, the daily spending limit for the Shift Card is $1,000 USD. You can lower this limit to any amount below $1,000. The daily ATM withdrawal limit is $200 USD. There is no annual fee, no fee for domestic payments, however there is 3% for international ones, there is a $2.50 USD fee for domestic ATM withdraws and $3.50 USD for international ATM withdraws. So it seems that the target users for the Shift Card are USA customers that plan to spend Bitcoins for domestic payments and not withdraw BTC to USD on an ATM or use the cards abroad.

Since the Shift Card is limited to only certain states of the USA, if you live in a non supported state or in a different country there are other alternatives for debit cards that are backed by Bitcoin that you might want to check out. We have been using a VISA debit card powered by BTC linked to our Xapo account for a while already and are quite happy with the results. Another alternative is the service E-Coin that is essentially an online Bitcoin wallet along with a Bitcoin debit card linked to it and you can get either a virtual debit card or a physical one, though we have not yet tested the service we are soon going to. Another interesting alternative is the Gold-backed debit card from BitGold where you can purchase Gold with Bitcoin and still fund your card with BTC, even though your account balance will be in Gold.

For more details about the Shift Card VISA debit card that is powered by Bitcoins…

ethereum-blockchain-data

With Bitcoin’s blockchain data files already over 50 GB in size and Litecoin’s blockhcain size approaching 7 GB there are some concerns rising about the rapidly growing in size blockchain of Ethereum. While BTC and LTC are already a few years old and established and used crypto currencies, Ethereum is still fairly new and in just little over 3 and a half months the blockchain size has already reached 2.9 GB in size. Now, imagine what will happen in a few years of use with the adoption rate and numbers of transactions increasing… it could easily catch up to the size of the Bitcoin’s blockchain. In fact the amount of data that the blockchains of crypto currencies take is starting to become an issue for everyone that is running a full local node and things will get worse as crypto currencies will need more and more space to store the data on your hard drive. This will make online wallet services and light wallets more attractive, but we do still need a lot of full nodes running in order to secure the network of any crypto currency. So not only the matter about the block size for Bitcoin should be discussed, but also the matter about the total blockchain size and that goes for other crypto currencies as well. It is even more of an issue with crypto currencies such as Ethereum that have faster block times, making them generate more blocks in less time.


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