UPDATE (5th August 00:15 BST): This piece has been updated with statements issued in a new Xapo blog post.
California-based bitcoin wallet provider Xapo is facing community backlash following the release of its latest product, the Xapo Debit Card.
Xapo started shipping the cards on 30th July, roughly one month after its original estimated launch date. Yet the news has largely been overshadowed by the company's recently published fees and limits schedule.
The schedule eventually found its way to reddit, evoking a strong response from customers who were upset to find the product would be more expensive than they originally believed.
Xapo has now formally responded to the situation via a company blog post, stating that the fee schedule is the product of its partnership with the third-party issuer of the cards. This partner, Xapo says, requires a monthly service fee, card replacement fee and currency conversion fee, among other additional charges.
The post reads:
Further, Xapo said that it did not intend to deviate from its original announcement, and that it will, in some cases, reimburse customers for fees incurred, adding:
Xapo concluded the blog post by providing information on how customers could opt out of the card offering, and stating that it is working to bring the cards to India and the US, areas where the product is not currently available.
Bitcoiner uproar over hefty fees
When it announced the card, Xapo promised a $15 one-time shipping and handling fee, but the company did not reveal any information on other associated costs.
The fee schedule, however, revealed the following card charges:
- A monthly service fee of $4.95, or £3.95/€3.95 for European customers
- An international ATM transaction surcharge
- Declined transactions costs of $1, or £1/€1
- Domestic ATM transaction costs of $3.50 per transaction, or £2.50/€2.50 in Europe.
The company did not release a fee schedule prior to launch. However, it suggested costs would be limited to a one-time charge of $15. On its FAQ page, the company said that the initial fee covers the cost of issuing and shipping the card.
"Merchants will pay all fees just as they do for debit and credit cards but there won't be a fee for the customer," Xapo stated.
Unfortunately, the ambiguous wording of Xapo's statements led many customers to conclude there would be no additional fees for using the card, an opinion evidenced by the strongly negative response to the company's update.
Xapo has since stated that it did not factor ATM fees into its original statements, as it did not believe it would offer such a service, stating:
Failure to communicate
A potential driver of the strong consumer backlash was that the release of additional pricing information came after many users had already signed up to receive the card.
Further, message board comments ran the gamut from overwhelmingly negative to sympathetic, with a small number of users noting that Xapo's final product was likely influenced by poor US regulation and the difficulties inherent in the company's bid to acquire a traditional financial partner to support the offering.
Xapo's Debit Card has been a source of strain for the company since its initial announcement.
, Xapo had indicated to news sources including TechCrunch and CoinDesk that MasterCard's payment network would supply the rails for the debit card transactions.
MasterCard quickly moved to separate itself from the offering, telling CoinDesk:
However, Xapo told CoinDesk that it had secured a partner for the card offering as of early July, and that the delays in the shipment were purely product-based.
A spokesperson for Xapo said on 3rd July:
Image via Xapo
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.