All About BTC, LTC, ETH mining as well as other alternative crypto currencies
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.
Some more Bitcoin and crypto currency oriented businesses have announced that they will not be applying for BitLicense and thus will stop offering their services to residents of the state of New York. These companies include the Bitcoin cloud mining service Genesis Mining:
Genesis Mining will not be able to comply with the regulations set forth by the proposed BitLicense and as such, we will no longer be able to accept customers from the state of New York. All current customers will be able to continue their services, but going forward, no one with an IP address from the state of New York will be able to purchase hashpower contracts with us.
Then there is also the LocalBitcoins, a service that connects people willing to sell and buy Bitcoins all over the world. Interestingly enough at the same time one of the biggest online Bitcoin wallet providers and payment processor service Coinbase has announced they will be applying for BitLicense. Applying for a BitLicense has two sides, one regarding the process itself that seems to be long and costly endeavor for the companies, and the other is the concern regarding the customer’s privacy and how it will be affected after a company complies with the BitLicense regulations.
An interesting announcement coming straight from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) about the lauch of the first exchange-calculated and disseminated bitcoin index – NYSE Bitcoin Index (NYXBT). The new NYXBT Index will represent the U.S. dollar value of one bitcoin unit based upon actual transactions occurring on select bitcoin exchanges which have been evaluated and meet NYSE’s quality standards. The NYSE Bitcoin Index will initially feature data from transactions from the Coinbase Exchange, an exchange that NYSE made a minority investment in earlier this year.
“Bitcoin values are quickly becoming a data point that our customers want to follow as they consider transacting, trading or investing with this emerging asset class,” said NYSE Group President Thomas Farley. “As a global index leader and administrator of ICE LIBOR, ICE Futures U.S. Dollar Index and many other notable benchmarks, we are pleased to bring transparency to this market. By combining our technology infrastructure with our expertise in index calculation and data management, we will continue to launch complementary products based on our rigorous standards and proprietary index methodology.”
NYXBT utilizes a unique methodology that relies on rules-based logic to analyze a dataset of matched transactions and verify the integrity of the data to ultimately produce an objective and fair daily value for one bitcoin in U.S. Dollars as of 16:00 London time. The index will be published within a short period of that time via the widely-distributed NYSE Global Index Feed (GIF) as well as made publicly available for an initial period on the NYSE index page.