CoinJar, a Melbourne-based Bitcoin exchange, aims to bring the virtual currency into the Australian mainstream next month with the offer of Australia’s first EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer at point of sale) cards connected to Bitcoin accounts, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The company will conduct a trial of their Swipe cards with about 100 individuals who already hold Bitcoin accounts over the next couple of weeks, and then will make them available for the general public.
CoinJar, which has approximately 30,000 users and has processed roughly AU$50 million so far, generates revenue by charging a 2 percent transaction fee on Bitcoin-to-standard currency conversion and vice versa, reports the Morning Herald.
The conversion into Australian dollars will happen when CoinJar account holders load their Swipe cards from their Bitcoin accounts rather than when they purchase goods with the card.
When asked why people would want to use Bitcoin instead of traditional currency, CoinJar CEO Asher Tan told the Morning Herald that it would expose more individuals to the benefits of a currency that can be transferred instantly and used beyond the realm of the traditional payments network, with no cost aside from CoinJar’s transaction fee.
“It is a first step, but it does open up a lot of opportunities,” Tan said. “You could receive say $500 worth of bitcoin value from overseas for say an online job, like graphic design for [an overseas client] then you could be off spending your money in a matter of minutes.”
Tan told the newspaper that people can also transfer Bitcoins between each other instantly now, including “micro payments” without incurring fees.
“I could try to do that now between banks, and it will take overnight or I can do it via PayPal and you will get hit with fees,” said Tan. “There is no real answer.”
The Morning Herald notes people still keep money in a bank account to purchase Bitcoins from or sell them to Coinjar. But, once there, this allows Bitcoins to be exchanged for something via the CoinJar Swipe card without going through a bank or bank-linked card.
“It is one step towards creating a more efficient financial system,” said Tan.
Speaking with Mashable, Tan said that the Swipe card system “demystifies bitcoin and makes it accessible to everyone through a secure platform.”
He told the news outlet that the Bitcoin world is for those who want ultimate control over their finances.
“It is not controlled by a bank or other third parties, but by a network of computers worldwide backed by strong encryption that verify transactions multiple times to ensure that no fraudulent transactions occur,” said Tan to Mashable. “This means nobody has total control over your money but you.”
Tan told the Morning Herald that his company does not expect to make a lot of money out of the Swipe cards; online is where the main game is at. He said CoinJar has “a whole suite of apps coming out next month,” which include a new Android application and an update for the iOS 8 Apple system.