Posts Tagged ‘Xapo

The first days of the New Year came with an unpleasant surprise for many if not all users of Visa debit cards powered by Bitcoin and/or other crypto currencies as services such as Wirex and Xapo among others just stopped working. The reason was not known at first apart from the fact that the issuer of the actual Visa prepaid cards, a company called WaveCrest, has deactivated them after getting instructed to do so directly from Visa. WaveCrest is the Visa debit card partner for many services offering Bitcoin or other crypto currency wallets that can be accessed and funds in them used through the prepaid debit cards. Below is a quote of the email message sent from WaveCrest to all its customers regarding the issue, not many details revealed as of the reason for cards getting deactivated.

Dear Cardholder,

We, WaveCrest, are the issuer of your Visa Prepaid card, which you have enrolled for through one of our program partners. Visa have today instructed us that we must close all WaveCrest issued Visa Prepaid Cards with immediate effect.

How will this affect you?

Your WaveCrest-issued Visa Prepaid Card will no longer function. However, as your funds were stored in your e-wallet they will remain accessible to you via your wallet provider.

We thank you for your cooperation.

Yours sincerely,
WaveCrest

Services such as Wirex and Xapo are still working and offering their customers access to their funds, though the plastic or virtual cards issued by them are no longer operating while they find another solution with another issues of debit cards. If you are using any other service that is offering a prepaid Visa debit card powered by crypto currencies and it has stopped working suddenly, then the reason is most likely the same – they have used WaveCrest as the card issuer as well. If you are using a service that still has functioning Visa prepaid debit card powered by BTC or another crypto please feel free to share the name of the service as most likely they are using an alternative card issuer. The chances are however that other Visa card issuers like WaveCrest might have also received the same order from Visa to shut down the cards of their crypto partners.

On a side note, we are hearing that in some European countries more and more banks are starting to refuse to accept banks transfers coming from crypto exchanges after being advised to do so from their central banks. Apparently there is something cooking in the EU regarding crypto and this year we might actually see some sort of regulation coming up on a European Union level and we are yet to see if it will be for good or for bad.

Do you remember the time when Bitcoin was advertised as a fast and easy way to transfer money all over the world with a minimal transaction fee. Well, these times are long gone now that we are seeing the 1MB blocks full with transactions, a backlog of almost 200000 unconfirmed transactions and over 100 BTC in fees alone with almost 100MB backlog (100 blocks behind with 1MB block size). As a result there are high transaction fees that start at more than a dollar and can go as high as a couple of dollars just to have your transaction included in a block in a reasonable time. Things are not looking good, unless a consensus for a solution (even temporary) to the small block size is found as with the increase of the price of Bitcoin. Services such as online Bitcoin wallets and such have started to increase the transaction fees already so, that there will be no extra delay for their customers, the problem is that these extra costs are usually covered by the users.

For example the online Bitcoin wallet and a Bitcoin-powered debit card issuer Xapo has recently informed its customers about their plans to actually have the transaction fees for withdraws paid by the users. Prior to that the service did not have users paying the fees for outgoing transactions, but the high fees associated with transfers on the Bitcoin blockchain have forced this change. With low transaction fees covering the extra cost is not a problem for some services, but with the constantly growing transaction fees you can even end up paying more for the actual transaction to be included in the blockchain than the amount you are transferring if it is just a couple of dollars.

Do you remember those promo images comparing Bitcoin to Western Union, PayPal and other popular payment services and talking about how BTC is better with the very low transaction fees cited as one of the key advantages. Well, if this trend continues and a solution is not found soon, then things might end up with Bitcoin transaction fees actually making transfers more expensive than to use a more established alternative payment method like the ones mentioned…

blockchain-logo

Blockchain, along with other big names in the Bitcoin industry have just released a public letter in support the implementation of BIP101 and larger Bitcoin blocks. Other companies that have signed the document include BitPay, Circle, Kncminer, Bitnet, Xapo and Bitgo and other companies are encouraged to join. Below is the document quoted and you can also find a link to the contents and signatures of the presidents and CEOs of the companies that have signed it:

Our community stands at a crossroads. The debate about which path to take has, by and large, been a healthy one, and we have not interposed our own positions or interfered in the discourse. Until today, our involvement has consisted of listening, researching and testing. We believe that work is complete, and it is time to communicate our view in a clear and transparent manner.

After lengthy conversations with core developers, miners, our own technical teams, and other industry participants, we believe it is imperative that we plan for success by raising the maximum block size.

We support the implementation of BIP101. We have found Gavin’s arguments on both the need for larger blocks and the feasibility of their implementation – while safeguarding Bitcoin’s decentralization – to be convincing. BIP101 and 8MB blocks are already supported by a majority of the miners and we feel it is time for the industry to unite behind this proposal.

Our companies will be ready for larger blocks by December 2015 and we will run code that supports this.

As our community grows, it is essential – now more than ever that we seek strong consensus to ensure network reliability. We pledge to support BIP101 in our software and systems by December 2015, and we encourage others to join us.

Note that the companies that have signed the letter are pledging that they will be ready for larger blocks by December 2015. Some of the large Bitcoin mining pools have already implemented support for larger Bitcoin blocks, but there is still no consensus among all players in the Bitcoin ecosystem about the matter. We too believe that Bitcoin needs to start using larger blocks in the future in order to be able to scale up with the increased usage, but as to how this should be implement is a different story however.

To see the signed copy of the letter in support of bigger blocks and BIP101 in PDF format…


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