Australia's CoinJar has announced pricing for its new 'Swipe' debit cards, which allow users to load and spend funds from their bitcoin balances at any business in Australia's widespread EFTPOS electronic debit network.
CoinJar, which launched the trial of its regional-first card product last week, is promising "no activation fees, no load fees, no conversion rates (subject to CoinJar Fair Rate policy), [and] no inactivity fees".
Users will still face some costs, however. Ordering the card initially costs AUD$29 ($26). Additionally, cash withdrawals from ATMs on Australia's 'Redi-ATM' network incur a AUD$2 ($1.78) fee, but users can withdraw cash for free if using the cards at either of the nationwide Coles or Woolworths supermarket chains.
CoinJar is waiving the $29 initial fee during the trial period.
"CoinJar will be absorbing these costs because we want our users to experience the power of bitcoin and spend it freely," the company said.
Loading the cards
CoinJar has published complete details of Swipe conditions on its blog. Users top up their debit card accounts from their CoinJar account dashboards by selecting the required balance in AUD, and then the exchange handles conversion from BTC.
There are two options for loading: manual or automatic. Manual loading enables users to choose a time and thus exchange rate most favorable to them.
With the automatic loading option, which aims for convenience, users set a minimum balance (in dollars) for the debit card account that, when reached, will trigger an automatic trade for a pre-set amount (also in AUD).
Automatic loading provides a 'live feel' to the spending process, despite direct bitcoin-to-debit card spending in stores not yet being an option.
Adoption in daily life
CoinJar representative Samual Tate told CoinDesk the company was "making a point" rather than profit with its debit card infrastructure.
Bitcoin debit cards also aren't just about bolting bitcoin features onto existing financial and banking systems, he added.
"We want to show that bitcoin can not only fit into legacy systems, but actually make them more efficient."
Consumers outside the bitcoin universe would "follow the path of least resistance" when choosing to adopt new systems, Tate continued. It would be a matter of who could make the transition to bitcoin-based savings and spending easiest.
CoinJar operates what it calls a 'DNA program', where customers identified as power users are granted beta-testing access to new features. The company says it is planning to launch "a suite of new features" for testers and that it has about 40 customers participating in the program at present.
CoinJar is seeking to build a demographic mixture of user-testers who also have a strong understanding of bitcoin and technology in general.
Users can apply to be part of the program on CoinJar's dedicated web page.
Image via CoinJar