Within the last year, cryptocurrency development and usage have skyrocketed. Bitcoin has grown over 700 percent this year. And with that boost in popularity and usage comes a significant increase in market value; total cryptocurrency markets have been valued as high as $200 billion with the introduction of "initial coin offerings." However, one big hurdle exists in cryptocurrency's move into mainstream finances: they're nearly impossible to use in stores.
One company is looking to make spending cryptocurrency in stores way more accessible. The Dragoncard, developed by startup London Block Exchange (LBX), functions like a debit card, but rather than tapping into your cash reserves, it accesses your crypto accounts. It can take bitcoin, dash, ether, and other cryptocurrencies.
The British-based company is sterling-to-cryptocurrency exchanges for now on a Visa debit card. When someone uses the Dragoncard, LBX pays the retailer in pounds before taking the money from a user's cryptocurrency wallet. And, just like most other major debit cards, LBX Dragoncards come with a digital wallet app to let users keep track of how much their spending per cryptocurrency.
LBX CEO and founder Ben Dives said that cryptocurrencies could play a role in shaping London's future as a global financial leader.
"Despite being the financial capital of the world, London is a difficult place for investors to enter and trade in the cryptocurrency market," Dives said in a statement. "We’ll bring it into the mainstream by removing the barriers to access, and by helping people understand and have confidence in what we believe is the future of money."
The Dragoncard will become available in December and will cost £20 ($26.33). There's also a 0.5 percent fee whenever a transaction is made on the LBX platform. LBX's card provider Wavecrest also charges an ATM fee for withdrawals, but that's no shocker to any debit card user.
"We’re offering a grown up and robust experience for those who wish to safely and easily understand and invest in digital currencies," said LBX executive chairman Adam Bryant. Bryant was a former UBS banker and spent 18 years at Credit Suisse before joining LBX. "We’re confident we’ll transform this market in the U.K. and will become the leading cryptocurrency and blockchain consultancy for institutional investors and consumers alike."
LBX isn't the only crypto-card on the market. Centra Card is another option with no spending and exchange fees. Those cards are expected to be shipped out to customers and primed for usage by the end of this year, according to the company's website.
Crypto debit cards are slowly coming into the market, but government regulations remain a significant roadblock for most debit card startups. However, several industry leaders hope that adopting and using crypto debit cards would make cryptocurrencies more accessible -- especially for international travelers.
"A crypto debit card allows users to use their crypto wallets in a retail setting easily and with low friction,” blockchain-based “global consensus engine” Trive CEO David Mondrus said in an interview with Coin Telegraph. "I’ve traveled extensively in the US and abroad using my crypto debit card. It’s been a real life-saver at times."