Like many of you, I try to use Bitcoin to pay for goods and services whenever possible. The good news is that this is gradually getting easier! A quick peek at coinmap will show you that more shops are accepting Bitcoin every day. However there will always be some shops that won’t accept our hard-earned Bitcoins 😦
For these situations, where the shop accepts major cards, we are working on something we think you will find useful – A debit card from one of the major players, associated with your GreenAddress Bitcoin Wallet.
The card will be transparent, not requiring pre-loading or manually exchanging money at any point. Here’s how it will work:
When you use the card to pay, the point of sale system authorizes the card payment with the card network as usual.
When the authorization request hits the issuers network, the issuer routes it to GreenAddress, and we forward a mobile/phone notification to you. The notification confirms that you are happy to pay the fiat amount X to the shop, at a cost to you of Y bitcoins including any fees involved.
Once you accept, your coins are sent securely and instantly to the issuer, and the issuer accepts the fiat transaction with the shop.
If you reject then we notify the issuer and the transaction is rejected as unauthorized. You can then try again or pay in some other way, just as with a regular debit card.
Pretty cool, huh? Now, I’m sure some of you are asking whether this requires compliance with AML or KYC regulations, how refunding will work, etc.
The short answer is that regulation depends on the country and issuer card limits(we intend to support multiple issuers where possible). Refunds will be handled in fiat – handling it in BTC has not been discussed but I can imagine it would have a huge impact on fees if it is even possible to implement.
We have other ideas in mind, such as allowing the card authorization itself to be used as two factor authentication, avoiding the need for any mobile acknowledgment step (this would make the card indistinguishable from a normal debit card).
Now, how far along are we with all this?
We have most of the technological pieces in place already, but deployment of a working service is months away if not more. We are in discussions with more than one issuer (covering EU and Asia) but nothing is firm yet. We want to shake things up a bit and get some feedback on interest, e.g. how much and in which countries. This will allow us to focus on issuers where we can demonstrate clear benefits for all sides, and push for faster service roll-out.
Update: the pictures are not representative of what will be the actual offering, those are just images marked for reuse in wikimedia. So far we are talking Chip and PIN and I doubt there will be any other offering.