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Coinbase Unveils America’s First Bitcoin Debit Card

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It may be fashionable these days to praise the blockchain while dismissing bitcoin. But the news today that Coinbase is launching a new bitcoin debit card in the United States is a reminder that bitcoin is alive, well, and working its way closer to the mainstream economy.

Coinbase’s new The Shift Card is the product of a partnership between Coinbase and Shift Payments. The card can be used in 24 states in the United States and at more than 38 million merchants around the world. There is a $10 issuance fee with no additional fees “for a limited time.” Cards will begin arriving after November 20th.

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Coinbase Business Development Managers Nahid Samsami and Roger Gu demonstrated Coinbase Instant Exchange at FinovateSpring 2014.

Adam White, Coinbase VP for business development and strategy, called the Shift Card “a key element” in making bitcoin easier to buy, sell, and transact with. Both Coinbase and Dwolla accounts are supported. Users in eligible states can order the card by connecting to their Coinbase account, and authorizing the fee (paid in bitcoin). Shift relies on Coinbase Connect which provides integration, permissions, and authentications to more than 2.8 million Coinbase users.

The Shift Card is accompanied by the Shift app that provides account balances and transactions. Available in iOS and Android, the Shift Card works anywhere Visa is accepted. Plans are to enable cardholders to connect to banks, airline miles and other alternative-currency accounts in the near future.

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Shift Card’s fee structure includes a 3% fee for international transactions; $3.50, international ATMs; $2.50, domestic ATMs. There is no annual fee and no charge for domestic transactions. There is a daily spending limit of $1,000 and daily ATM withdrawal limits of $500 from Dwolla accounts and $200 from Coinbase accounts. More information on fees is here.

Coinbase has had a busy autumn. In November alone the company announced a partnership with Fidelity Charitable to enable bitcoin contributions to donor-advised funds, launched mobile price charts, international translations, and consolidated accounts for bitcoin, and teamed up with USAA to make it easier for members to use bitcoin. Coinbase also added support for 3D Secure credit and debit cards in October and launched in Singapore in September.

Founded in July 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, Coinbase demonstrated its Instant Exchange technology at FinovateSpring 2014. Brian Armstrong is CEO. The company has raised more than $106 million in funding and includes Andreessen Horowitz, BBVA Ventures, and Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) among its investors.