Notoriously tight-lipped bitcoin exchange and CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index member BTC-e is now allowing customers to withdraw funds to Visa and MasterCard debit and credit cards, with some exceptions.
The company blog post, issued on 21st March, indicated that the new program is now available to customers in any country, using any currency. All customers will pay a 5% fee for the service.
The new functionality is noteworthy as it will allow customers to send money to debit and credit cards issued by two of the largest and most commonly used international card issuers. At present, the transfer of funds is only possible in US dollars.
"If your card is not in USD, the money will be converted at the rate of VISA / MasterCard or your bank's rate (depending on the agreement with your bank)."
BTC-e estimated that customers will need to wait between two and four days to receive funds. MasterCard's Maestro debit card, cards issued by PayPal and Visa Electron debit cards are not able to be used in conjunction with the service.
BTC-e did not respond to requests for further information.
BTC-e conducted customer testing for an unidentified period before enabling the service, and posted answers to three frequently asked questions.
The exchange indicated the transactions will display as "affiliate payment" or "refund affiliate payment" on credit card statements. It added that funds can be sent to cards in any country and that on some cards such transactions would not be possible due to restrictions imposed by banks.
"Some credit cards that do not allow [you] to have a positive balance cannot be funded. If payout to your card is not possible, then we will immediately notify you and refund the money back to your account."
The news follows what appears to be an increasingly active period of experimentation from the major exchange in regards to its offerings, notably following the insolvency of its one-time major competitor Mt. Gox.
On 28th February, it cut withdrawal fees via some of its third-party services in a move that increased the ease with which some customers would be able to move funds out of the exchange.
The moves also come in the wake of increasing attention from the mainstream media and warnings from major investors about the exchange's practices.