Germany-based payments startup Bitwala is now offering crypto banking services in the country in partnership with local fintech firm SolarisBank.
A great many of Visa’s cryptocurrency debit cards have ceased working today as the company ended its relationship with a debit card provider called WaveCrest. Affected cards are those issued by WaveCrest, including products from CryptoPay, Bitwala, TenX, Wirex and others.
The move, which first appeared to be cryptocurrency related, is in fact simply a crackdown against the WaveCrest company, who has apparently violated Visa’s policies. A Visa representative has told TNW:
“We can confirm that WaveCrest’s Visa membership is being terminated due to continued non-compliance with our operating rules. All of WaveCrest’s Visa card programmes will be closed as a result.
Visa has other approved card programmes that use fiat funds converted from cryptocurrency in a number of jurisdictions. The termination of WaveCrest’s Visa membership does not affect these other products.”
The news first broke via Twitter, with a number of companies linked to WaveCrest making public apologies.
— Bitwala (@bitwala) January 5, 2018
Unfortunately, our card issuer instructed us to cease all Cryptopay prepaid cards starting January 5th, 2018. All funds stored on cards are safe and will be returned to your Cryptopay accounts ASAP. Sorry for all the inconvenience caused, we’re working on the solution!
— Cryptopay (@cryptopay) January 5, 2018
The general increase in attention from regulators has led to growing fear over a cryptocurrency crackdown. However, the current problem is specifically related to issues with WaveCrest. Other companies and card issues have been unaffected.
Visa, the payments giant, ordered cryptocurrency debit card providers to suspend their services on Friday, according to three of the affected companies.
Bitcoin payments processor BitPay announced in a statement that its European card issuer, Wave Crest Holdings, Ltd., had been told by Visa to close its bitcoin accounts. The company will refund any remaining balances, as well as card order fees for anyone who purchased a card after Dec. 1, 2017.
According to BitPay:
“Yesterday our European BitPay Card issuer Wave Crest Holdings, Ltd. received direction from Visa® to immediately close all accounts of its prepaid Visa® debit card programs. The BitPay Card (non-US) is one of these programs, along with other cryptocurrency-related and standard prepaid Visa® debit cards. Unfortunately, Wave Crest was unable to provide us or cardholders with more time to prepare for this change.”
Berlin-based Bitwala said on Twitter that its team was holding an emergency meeting to discuss the issue. However, London-based Cryptopay announced in a subsequent tweet that it had already begun negotiating with another card issuer.
Similarly, BitPay said in its statement that it was “already in discussions with potential alternative issuers.”
Notably, the shutdowns appear limited to European consumers. BitPay stated that U.S. customers would not experience any disruptions.
Less than a year ago, BitPay announced it was expanding to 131 countries at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2017 conference. Its cards allow users to fill their balances with cryptocurrencies, but spend in euros, British pounds, or U.S. dollars.
Visa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in BitPay.
App image via BitPay
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Bitcoin mining pool F2pool has become the latest signatory to U-turn on its commitment to the controversial SegWit2x hard fork.
Following wallet provider Bitwala, F2pool’s Wang Chun said he “didn’t pull out of anything” and had only voiced support for the project “until July.”
— Wang Chun (@f2pool_wangchun) September 1, 2017
The news marks another blow for Barry Silbert’s New York Agreement, which has faced trouble with consensus since its inception.
SegWit2x was originally due to become a hard fork of the Bitcoin network in November, creating a third ‘version’ of Bitcoin along with the already extant Bitcoin Cash.
The issue has become a topic of hot debate in recent weeks. While Bitcoin (BTC) markets have shaken off uncertainty, commentator Oleg Andreev has conversely suggested the hard fork is a “FUD project” hampering Bitcoin prices.
“We would like to honor the agreement that we subscribed to (as one of the first movers, unbeknownst to the fact that most developers would not enter the agreement),” Bitwala had written in a blog post on SegWit2x late August.
SegWit activated for Bitcoin to modest celebration last month.
Meanwhile, prices for Litecoin have appeared to profit more noticeably than Bitcoin, with developers simultaneously pushing to fully implement Lightning Network functionality on the altcoin.
A curious forking project this week has added to the confusion. Known as Bitcoin GPU, the apparently hastily designed implementation uses the Bitcoin Cash logo and contains little technical information.