Shift Payments, through co-operation with web wallet giant Coinbase, has released a US based Bitcoin Debit card with no annual fee and no domestic transaction fee. The news was announced the same day as when Coinbase announced charity giant Fidelity Charitable would begin accepting Bitcoin donations. The card is accepted at “38 million” VISA accepting merchants and draws directly from the user’s Coinbase account.
A Bitcoin debit card has been promised many times in the past, and a few have come out, but US support is either non-existent or comes with significant caveats. The Shift Card is available to US residents in supported states. The Shift Payments debit card has no annual fee and no transaction fee for domestic purchases, making it an attractive option for users who want to spend their bitcoin at regular stores without converting to fiat first. There are fees for ATM withdraws and there is a ten dollar issuance fee, but it still remains an affordable option for people who need to turn their Bitcoin into fiat fast.
While Coinbase did release a blog post on the card, it is not immediately clear how involved they were, if at all, with the creation of the Shift Payments card.
Unfortunately, the patchwork regulation of the individual 50 states means that Shift is currently unavailable to some people in the United States, depending on what state they live in. Virginia, my state of residence, is one of the states not yet supported. Presumably, the reason some states aren’t supported is because of unclear or restrictive regulations in those states. Coinbase does operate in Virginia, but Virginia is one of fourteen US states not supported by their high volume trading platform, Coinbase Exchange. It would make sense if Shift’s debit card followed a similar pattern, but we have yet to get confirmation from Shift if that is the case. In fact, one ZapChain user in Colorado mentioned that Colorado was also not supported, but Colorado is supported by Coinbase Exchange, so it is not a 1:1 correlation. We have reached out to Shift Payments, asking them which States are supported and which aren’t and will update this space as necessary.
ZapChain’s Daniel Cawrey wrote up a quick post of his experience ordering the card that you can read here. [Note: ZapChain partnered with Coinbase for its digital goods store.]
As mentioned, we will update this space if we hear back from Shift Payments.