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Crypto company Blockchain.com to issue Visa debit card

Visa (V) is opening its payment network to another major crypto firm a day after reporting earnings that topped estimates.

This newest card from London and Miami-based Blockchain.com, which will be issued through fintech platform Marqeta (MQ), comes with no fees and allows users to earn 1% back in crypto.

The move follows a long-term trend of crypto companies working to make it easier for customers to use their digital asset investments to pay for real world goods and services.

"We believe access is foundational to the future of money movement,” Chuy Sheffield, Visa's head of crypto, said. “We’re excited to partner with leading crypto exchanges like Blockchain.com to unlock more ways consumers can use their crypto for everyday purchases.”

Initially rolling out to U.S. customers with plans to expand to Europe by early next year, Blockchain.com said its customer account-linked debit card already has 50,000 signups for its waitlist.

"It's really about customer demand," the firm's co-founder and CEO Peter Smith told Yahoo Finance. "We're constantly polling our customers, asking them what kind of features they want next and the debit card, cards generally, top that list."

Blockchain.com's Visa debit card

Earlier this month, rival exchange FTX said it would expand its partnership with Visa by sending debit cards to 40 additional countries starting in Latin America.

Several major brands including AMC, Home Depot, Microsoft, Overstock, Virgin Airlines, Whole Foods and the country of El Salvador accept bitcoin as a form of payment.

Visa already supports cards issued by Coinbase, Binance, and many other firms totaling over 70 partnerships with crypto firms. A report from crypto lender BlockFi found customers using its card spent a third more than the average U.S. consumer in the first three months of card opening.

According to its website, Atlanta-based BitPay, one of the largest crypto processing companies has processed 66,186 transactions in the last 30 days and 422,197 in the past six months. That's still just a sliver of all payments transactions. For context, Visa reported processing 50.9 billion payments transactions for the three-month period ending September 30.

Outside of the crypto crowd, the majority of U.S. consumers haven't shown unanimous interest for cryptocurrencies let alone their use as a means of payment given their exchange rate volatility and usability.

However, dollar-pegged stablecoins, which can come in a range of risk varieties, can evade some of the volatility dilemma.

UKRAINE - 2021/04/30: In this photo illustration, Visa logo is seen displayed on a smartphone screen in front of cryptocurrency signs. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UKRAINE - 2021/04/30: In this photo illustration, Visa logo is seen displayed on a smartphone screen in front of cryptocurrency signs. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Regulation and public education may also be two other components holding back crypto's use as payments by U.S. consumers.

According to a poll conducted by D.C.-based trade association the Crypto Council for Innovation, half of U.S. voters (52%) expressed a desire for crypto to have more regulation, while 62% admitted cryptocurrencies aren't something they think about a lot. Only 13% — a little less than stocks (16%) — said they hold cryptocurrency.

Companies issuing debit cards profit from the interchange fee paid by merchants. For debit and credit cards issued by companies under $10 million in assets such as Blockchain.com, interchange fees can vary up to 2.5% per transaction, according to Visa.

After Visa and any other partners, companies with debit cards can take home anywhere from 0.5-1.2% according Dan Dolev, a senior fintech analyst with Mizuho Securities.

Blockchain.com's debit card comes after cryptocurrencies by total market capitalization have sold off by more than half their value from $2.18 trillion at the beginning of January to $996 billion, according to Coinmarketcap.

After completing a $490 million series D fundraising round in March, which valued Blockchain.com as one of the industry's largest companies, cryptocurrencies plummeted in the second quarter. Additionally, the firm lent $270 million in crypto to the troubled crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, according to a court document in Three Arrows' bankruptcy proceeding.

While admitting some near-term volatility in revenue is unavoidable for crypto businesses, Smith believes the new card offering provides another convenient use for crypto that people are looking for.

"In a world where crypto is really successful, people are going to need more access to the crypto market," Smith said. "Our customers want to be able not to just invest and save in crypto, they also want to access their crypto for daily spending."

David Hollerith is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance covering the cryptocurrency and stock markets. Follow him on Twitter at @DsHollers

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