The Bitcoin craze that began a few years ago is yet another one of the unforeseen curveballs that the internet has thrown at us. Although this form of electronic payment may seem futuristic and innovative—and to some parties, illegitimate—there’s no denying that it has altered the landscape of peer to peer payment forever. With financial service institution “Xapo” set to launch a Bitcoin debit card this month, it brings to question what exactly the future of this cryptocurrency and other open source payments may be.
For those who are a little less tech savvy, Bitcoin is a form of digital payment used to purchase goods, services, or merely trade among consumers. Bitcoins are earned through a process called “mining”, where users connect their computer to a server to process countless other Bitcoin transactions. These transactions go to an independent Bitcoin ledger called the “block chain”.
As users gain more Bitcoins, the processing of mining becomes increasingly difficult, and block chain rewards decrease per every block mined. There are only a finite amount of Bitcoins, and this method of accumulation is only expected to last until about 21 million Bitcoins are created. By that point, the only way to make a profit off of Bitcoins will be through payment transaction fees. This could possibly explain why finding alternative ways to use and transfer Bitcoins has become a topic of interest.
According to www.coindesk.com, the Bitcoin debit card will act the same as a regular debit card, and will be usable at any location a Mastercard can be used. Zapo analyzes the user account registered to the card, and then sells the appropriate amount of Bitcoins through the Bitcoin exchange service “Bitstamp”. The merchant will receive whatever localized currency is accepted in the area, so businesses will still receive real money, not Bitcoins.
With Bitcoin value currently fluctuating near $600 USD per coin on www.bitcoinexchangerate.org, this is a huge step forward for the use of this peculiar digital currency. Now, owners and investors will have legitimate ways to spend their Bitcoins on goods and services outside of the internet. But what affect will this new service have on the market value and liquidity of Bitcoins? Will this make Bitcoin a more legitimate form of payment? Bitcoins were highly popular, largely because their fees were so much lower than those of regular credit card processors; how will this affect the price relationship, and what affect will this debit system have on other merchant payment systems? What do you think? Let us know!