Whaaat?

“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is make bitcoin easy to use,” says Coinbase vice president of business development and strategy Adam White. “We want to make it easy to buy and sell bitcoin, and we want to make it easy to spend. A mainstream debit card based on bitcoin is a key element.”

Tell me more!

According to Coinbase, the card has been approved for use by anyone living in one of 25 US states, including Texas, Washington, and New Jersey. It’s available in California, but only as part of a “beta” launch that will top out at 1,000 users.

For Coinbase, the hope is that its existing customers will start spending more of their bitcoin, rather than just speculating—and that new customers will be attracted to the digital currency because they can more easily spend it. “It only helps bitcoin adoption.”

The knock-on effect is potentially even more powerful. If more and more people start spending bitcoin, then merchants both online and off have more reason to accept direct payments in the digital currency. Ultimately, they’ll have even more incentive to make the switch to bitcoin than consumers. If they switch, they won’t have to pay those steep processing fees to the likes of VISA and Mastercard.

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