131 Countries: BitPay Goes International With Bitcoin Prepaid Visa Card

BitPay is expanding its prepaid bitcoin card offerings to more than 100 new countries.

AccessTimeIconMay 22, 2017 at 7:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 1:22 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

BitPay is expanding its prepaid Visa debit card offering to more than 100 new countries.

Unveiled today by BitPay chief commercial officer Sonny Singh at Consensus 2017, the Visa-branded offering enables users to top up its BitPay Prepaid Visa Card with dollars using cryptocurrency, which can then be spent as euros, British pounds or US dollars at merchants around the globe.

"This will be the first prepaid debit card that will be available in 131 countries," BitPay CEO Stephen Pair said in interview.

As such, the announcements marks perhaps the boldest execution on an idea that has been pursued by bitcoin-focused startups since 2014. But while early attempts at executing on the idea were met with setbacks, Pair said its partnership with Visa would ease issues.

Pair continued:

"This is about as broad as you can go with bitcoin cards. It's really putting the card out into a far-reaching population."

So far, BitPay reports that 15,000 cards from its domestic product, unveiled last year at Consensus 2016, have been ordered. Further, the startup reported that it has seen growing demand for an international version of the offering since last year.

"We have a waiting list of over 20,000 people who have asked," BitPay marketing and communications manager James Walpole told CoinDesk. "This provides a lot of value, especially in emerging markets where bitcoin is used for real-world payments."

Still, the product launch notably come at a time when some projects and startups formerly using the bitcoin blockchain as a payment rail have begun to adopt other solutions due to escalating network fees. (As transaction volumes have grown, the hard-coded limit on block size has effectively created a market for space on the bitcoin ledger).


But while Circle, another payments-focused startup, migrated to a new platform unveiled in December, Pair appeared less interested in this idea, stating that BitPay needs a "cryptocurrency that is secure, liquid and sufficiently scalable".

"We're committed to one blockchain in the long term, but if there's a problem with that network, we'd evaluate some other currency or a fork of the bitcoin blockchain," he stated.

Users have to pay the associated bitcoin network transaction fees to load the BitPay Prepaid Visa Card, but the BitPay team stressed the utility of its product and the benefits of cryptocurrency would be enough to override those concerns.

Founded in 2011, BitPay is one of the longest-operating bitcoin startups, having raised just over $30m in three public funding rounds.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in BitPay. 

Images via BitPay

This article has been updated for clarity. 


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.