Coinbase Becomes Direct Visa Card Issuer With Principal Membership

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Coinbase is now a principal member of Visa, according to a Feb. 19 announcement. This will allow it to issue debit cards without relying on third parties.

The membership is an evolution of Coinbase’s current relationship with Visa, with the cryptocurrency exchange providing a Visa-based debit card. Called Coinbase Card, it allows customers residing in the European Union or European Community to spend multiple cryptocurrencies.

While the card itself can function globally, it cannot be ordered by people residing outside of the supported areas. Coinbase reports that the card is seeing the most usage in the United Kingdom, followed by Italy, Spain and France.

Through the direct integration with Visa, Coinbase promises that it will be able to provide additional services and support more markets. The company asserts that it is the first “pure-play crypto company” to become a principal member.

Long history of debit cards 

The current iteration of the card was launched in 2019 in the U.K., but Coinbase previously supported the Shift crypto card, which drew funds from the user’s exchange balance. The service was launched in 2015.

Like many other crypto cards, Shift was hit hard by the revocation of WaveCrest’s Visa license in early 2018. The Gibraltar company was the effective issuer of almost all debit cards that served cryptocurrency users. Shift finally shut down operations in early 2019.

The new version is supported by Paysafe Financial Services Ltd., the company behind consumer products such as Skrill and PaysafeCard. It is unclear when or how the transition to Coinbase-issued cards will occur.

Coinbase representatives did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The article will be updated as more information is received.