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6-8 Weeks Until Bitcoin Debit/Credit Card, says BitInstant (codinginmysleep.com)
108 points by enmaku on Aug 20, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments

This will be a huge factor in increasing demand for bitcoin if it comes through. The biggest problem with bitcoin now is that it's not widely accepted for payment (i.e., it's not yet a medium of exchange). A debit/credit card is a big step in allowing people the ability to exchange their bitcoins for real goods. What will be really exciting is the day when you can actually see goods priced in bitcoin. E.g., that cupcake is going to cost you 0.1 bitcoins.

Really you think THAT is the biggest problem with Bitcoin.

Not the fact that its value fluctuates so wildly ?

> Not the fact that its value fluctuates so wildly ?

This does not worry me at all, since the value has been mostly fluctuating upwards. The positive risk outweights the negative.

With this card, people can invest in to bitcoin small amount each month, and they still can use their bitcoin reserves when they need.




[1] http://i.imgur.com/ICznv.jpg

[2] http://i.imgur.com/YeS9o.jpg

[3] http://i.imgur.com/IXsjv.png

You understand how currencies work, right? On one end of the trade there is a person that buys and the other a person that sells.

Even if what you said were true (That bitcoin has mainly being flunctating upwards), then the people selling things in bitcoins are actually losing on the trade.

What do you think the result of that is going to be?

Goods sold in bitcoins are going to be really unstable and sellers are going to be disincetived in selling them (or they'll just charge a premium for them - making them more expensive than if you paid for them in dollars).

The point is, that a currency flunctating a lot, even if mainly upwards, is not a really good thing. From a speculator perspective, volatility is a great thing, but not for everyone else.

Miners are receiving nearly $100K USD per day but the share to the smaller operators is often just small amounts, oftentimes $20 or so per month. The cost for them to cash out using the bank system is often expensive. This provides an economic method to cash out small amounts without incurring high fees.

More to the point, they won't actually have to cash out until they're ready to make a purchase with their proceeds. This means more money kept in Bitcoin for longer instead of being cashed out to sit in a USD/EUR/GBP bank account somewhere.

That's mostly a volume problem I think, granted one of the problems with Bitcoin is it was specifically designed with no levers. Stability can never be manipulated, so we're at the whim of nature.

I hope it's for real.

I was just looking for a backup debit card for international travel. This would give me a low-risk but high-utility reason to finally try bitcoin. And avoid opening another damn bank account

There it is lots of vapourware in the bitcoin scene, lots of projects announced that we will not hear about again in long time. So I'm not too hopeful.

I think BitInstant is not special in this sense, they promised bitcoin to cash withdrawals like months ago but haven't managed to ship it.

I have lived outside of the US for 6 years and can hands down recommend Charles Schwab Bank. All ATM fees in the US and abroad are reimbursed and there are no foreign transaction fees. That shady private ATM in the bar charges $5 per transaction? You are totally insensitive to it.

When was the last time you walked into a bank with a checking account question? You are here on HN so I assume it is rarely or never

But...it's a debit account, so if you need a credit card this may not fit your use case.

Seconded; not sure how easy it is to get one if you don't already have a brokerage account, but no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, and no ATM fees is great. It's a debit card, but that's better for international travel, as you'll need to take out cash, and I don't think you can get credit cards that won't charge a fee for a cash advance.

(As an aside - never never change cash for travelling abroad, the commissions/spreads are ridiculous)

As for bitcoin, I feel that the volatility with respect to regular currency make a debit card not that useful unless you're an ideologue or want to speculate/easily get cash out

An honest question: assuming you have more than 1 credit card, aren't all/most of them international? Are local-only credit cards the norm in the U.S.?

And do you really need a bank account per credit/debit card? I'd assume you have "external" credit/debit cards, where the only connection to the account is that it is charged monthly.

Good question.

- You never know when you'll have a fraud alert and a disabled card. When you're travelling overseas, even if you call ahead to notify the card company, you're a lot more likely to get a fraud alert. You know how you can get stuck on hold with your card company, lost in touch-tone hell? Well imagine that on cell phone roaming charges with a dying battery on a noisy street corner.

- You never know what will be accepted. Some machines only take chip and PIN (which is the norm in Europe and Asia, they think signing a receipt is weird), sometimes a clerk doesn't know how to do chip and sign or swipe and sign (which is universal here in the US).

- Most of all, you're in a country where you dont speak the language, the ATMs look different, you might not be able to read the signs or even have a conversation with a cab driver.

When your card gets rejected, you want to have a backup. So, two credit cards (from two different providers) and two debit cards (from two different providers).

Many cards in America have foreign transaction fees. There may be other fees associated as well.

That said I have looked into cards with no foreign transaction fees for future international travel. They do exist, but one more issue is making sure they support "chip and pin" for European countries.

The Chase card I have for use here in Italy works fine with no chip. There's an annual fee though, so I'm not sure whether I'll keep it beyond the first year; I'll have to look and see how much it's saved me.

Wouldn't there be a fee converting to and from bitcoins?

A friend from Finland came to the US for a mutual friend's wedding. He did some shopping at the mall while we were out together, and his Finnish credit card wouldn't read at Abercrombie, so they had to pull out the old slider to copy the card.

Using cards internationally can be hit or miss.

These are exactly the kind of thoughts I like to see people having about Bitcoin.

But isn't international credit/debit cards (even such with "limited charge") a solved problem? Except when under 18, all my credit cards were always international.

Depends on the charges. If you're ok with around 1£ added to every transaction while you're abroad, then yes, it's a solved problem. But if you're travelling a lot and don't want to exchange the paper money and always be stuck with some change you'll probably never use again... it could be better.

If you're ok with around 1£ added to every transaction while you're abroad, then yes, it's a solved problem.

How about £0? That's a solved problem too. In the parts of the world with a working, modernized banking system and proper competition.

I could chose to be part of those who got charged £1. I chose not to, and so did so many others, that where I live, finding a bank which charges you money at all to withdraw anywhere in the world is the exception, not the rule.

There may be merits to bitcoin (although I do admit I have very little knowledge, insight or understanding of the system), but you don't need it to have working banking institutions and free trade. That I do know.

Exactly. I just went over my credit cards' reports and it specifically says next to the international deals "fees: 0.0"[0]. Both reports checked are for the business/corporate versions[1] of two famous credit card entities (Visa, Amex, Mastercard, Diners).

Is it the same for my mother's credit card she got at the supermarker for club discounts? Probably not, but she uses another one outside the supermarket.

[0] There is probably some hidden fee in the conversion rate, but it seems to me a fair conversion rate, not unlike I would get at the post office.

[1] Personal cards

You can get a pre-payed card for that.

>6-8 Weeks

After Stack Overflow, we should really start referring to this as an "Atwood period".

Can you explain?:)

When asked how long version 1.0 of Stack Overflow would take to produce, Jeff Atwood famously replied "six to eight weeks" without any sort of serious planning or consideration. It took quite a bit longer. Listeners of the Stack Exchange podcast got to hear Joel Spolsky make fun of Jeff for this many times.

And since then, nearly every major upgrade, feature request, etc. has been scheduled as "6 to 8 weeks" or occasionally some variant like "6 to 8 months"

LMAO I thought the exact same thing, actually...

> You own the address on the card, though BitInstant has not yet determined the best way to hand over your private keys, or whether they should even offer such an option

Sounds like trouble.

They should change the name to Bitstant. It's two syllables and rolls off the tongue more smoothly.

The sound of BitStant reminds me of "stunt" like a trick, or stunted like stunted growth. Either way not words i'd like associated with my brand were I a credit card company.

Also, BitInstant, for its length, is more memorable and makes sense.

How does "chase" sound to you?

In my country we have a bank that is called "roberry". Very popular. Look it up its called "skok" bank szewczyka.

If MasterCard actually lets this happen I'll eat my hat.

This seems like an excellent opportunity for authorities to physically track people who use their bitcoins for illegal purposes.

Only if they're stupid enough to fund cards tied to their real identities with coins from a shady past. Bitcoin is as anonymous as you make it, put in the effort and you'll be ok - don't put in the effort and expect sirens.

Since this is just one of the many options available for spending bitcoins or cashing out, the criminals are probably not planning on using these.

It would be more fun to have card balance in BTC. I do not know how fast will it be to load the card with new BTC.

Card balance can be kept in BTC, according to the IRC logs at least. It's an international card so it can apparently hold balances in multiple currencies at once. Also, according to the logs, BTC transactions < $1,000 USD will be accepted on the first confirmation, so about 10 minutes to load the card.

Can you quote user bitinstant from the IRC log on this. I see only the following:

> <bitinstant> JimN, the card is denominated in USD, EUR, GBP so far

<ThomasV_> bitinstant: is there an option to keep the deposit as BTC until the card is used to make a payment or withdrawal?

<bitinstant> ThomasV, yes

Then later...

<sharpfocus> so the card can have fiat and btc on it concurrently presumably

<bitinstant> sharpfocus, yes precisly

Extra lines redacted to reduce noise :)

Anyone of you got more bitcoins then me?(0) ;) I tried to get a single bitcoin for multiple times, but it never worked out ;) I guess my hardware is too bad.

Due to the heavy competition, mining BTC on a standard machine is no longer worth it. Unless you have access to "free" electricity, you're better off buying one.

Consumer-grade mining is a temporary phenomena. In a few months, the block reward will be dropping in half, and most people with GPUs will no longer be able to operate them profitably for mining. This is because FPGA mining hardware has been shipping in volume.

In addition, if ASIC hardware starts shipping, GPU is completely out of the game and FPGAs will be hard pressed to stay powered on.

GPU mining had a good run for nearly two years, but it is about to be obsoleted.

So, the only way to get some bitcoins for a single person would be hacking sites like bitcoinica or users? Also, is there a live statistic, which shows how much bitcoins exists right now?


You can buy them, you know. That's the whole point of Bitcoin exchanges.

Maybe he likes to pay the iron price.

Your hardware is too bad if you don't have a dedicated miner with specialized hardware.

hmm so who own the best hardware win the game? what if Google decided to join!?

A company like Google could probably hijack the bitcoin network. However, no matter how much hardware you throw at it, you will never make more than 300 BTC per hour. So it would be unlikely to be economically feasible to throw a giant server farm behind calculating bitcoins.

Perhaps it would become a sensible concern if a country would adopt BTC as their currency and another country would decide to attack that country by destroying their currency.

I think I might be inorrect: if somebody hijacks the bitcoin network, perhaps they could make more money by changing transactions of the past. Not really sure, though. Anyway - that would only destroy the network, not really make them richer.

It amazes me that the initial bitcoin set up was basically a pyramid scheme and this doesn't seem to put anyone off.

Not to mention the fact that all that computing work is wasted doing nothing useful.

I'd much rather see grid computing networks offer signed certificates proving that you did a certain amount of work for them in place of money, but also allow you to swap them for cash.

That way, the computing power did something useful. Sure every grid computing network would be it's own 'central authority', but as long as they all adhere to a common api, I don't think that's a problem.

The computing work secures the block chain. That's the opposite of wasted.

In your computation certificate proposal, would you be able to trade certificates? If so, each grid network would be able to trade counterfeited certs (generate certs for which no work was performed). If not, it isn't a currency. Not to mention that exponential increases in computing power would cause the system to be inflationary, where a goal of bitcoin is to be deflationary.

> In your computation certificate proposal, would you be able to trade certificates? If so, each grid network would be able to trade counterfeited certs (generate certs for which no work was performed).

Yes, you'd be able to trade certificates and portions of certificates. The point is that the certificates have some real value too since they are essentially vouchers for more computer time on the grid network (some percentage of the time you contributed in the first place), that's why a grid provider wouldn't want to distribute more certificates than necessary.

There are a number of ways around the inflationary problem, the simplest would be for the certificates to be in whole grid computing seconds, so as the grid grew larger and more able, the certificates would increase in value at the same rate.

By the way being deflationary is a really bad idea - it stops investment and shrinks the whole pie of economic activity. Perhaps it wouldn't matter too much for a parallel currency, but for your main currency it'd result in massive unemployment.

I'm still so afraid the market will crash again, it still makes me hesitant to take bitcoin seriously.

It's interesting how Bitcoin is now becoming exactly what Bitcoin was always against: a centralized bank. A bad and unreliable one at that.

It kind of shows you the evolution of our banking systems and why we need one.

Kind of how Gmail has turned email into a centralized communications system? The existence of a bank based on Bitcoin doesn't remove your ability to store your wallet on a flash drive any more than Gmail removes your ability to run your own mail server.

Keep in mind that every transaction, whether it be email or bitcoin, has to involve two parties. If the centralised solution become widespread, it becomes difficult to avoid it because the chances are that the other party is centralised, even if you're not.

Why is that a problem? Just because someone has a debit card, doesn't mean the bank can suddenly trace how physical cash trades hands.

The limitations in the usability of Bitcoin are slowly being shored up by third-party opportunists. Just because Bitcoin is starting to be able to be used the way people use banks does not mean it is becoming a bank.

Even if I concede the point that Bitcoin is becoming a centralized bank - which I don't - how exactly is it "bad and unreliable"? At least this bank is run algorithmically by the crowd/cloud and can't rape pillage or otherwise screw you out of your money on the whim of a handful of rich white men... Perhaps I'm showing my politics too clearly here, but I do honestly believe that math is a better tool for deciding what happens to my money than the board of directors at Goldman-Sachs.

Bitcoin has deflation baked into the system. Deflation is _terrible_ for the economy because it encourages people to hide cash under mattresses instead of spending it on useful projects. (Or in more abstract terms, deflation raises the minimum viable rate of return on investment.) We've learned this lesson well. All the really terrible depressions --- the 1870s, the 1930s --- featured crippling deflation that kicked the economy while it was already down. When Williams Jennings Bryan seared "you shall not crucify mankind on a cross of gold", he was talking about how using gold for money kept inflation too low and hurt ordinary people in the economy. (Bryan's "free silver" movement would have been inflationary and beneficial.)

One important thing stopping the current depression from being as catastrophic as the great depression is the policy of the Federal Reserve (which is hugely influenced by Goldman Sachs) of printing money and keeping interest rates at 0%. If they didn't do that, we'd be far worse off right now.

So yes, as far as regulating the money supply goes, I'd trust the directors of Goldman Sachs over some algorithm any day, especially when that algorithm seems to have been designed by people with a very dogmatic theory of value, a theory that history demonstrates is incompatible with happiness.

This is what one school of thought says. Another school of thought says that people still buy deflating computers, mobile phones and other electronics, and Intel would have gone bankrupt long time ago if "mattress theory of deflation" is valid.

Another school of thought also says that inflation is a second form (after the taxes) of government oppression over the citizens; and that truely free currency should avoid both forms of government oppression: inflation and taxation.

He's talking about economy wide price level deflation, not some particular group of products. Inflation is a necessary element of capitalism, since productivity growth would have a deflationary outcome if prices staid flat.

If silver was a nice addition to a gold based money system, how isn't Bitcoin a nice addition to the existing monetary system just as well?

It isn't an either/or scenario. Parallel currencies for the win!

Ridiculous argument. I've got old coin (purchased at a lower price) and every time I spend it, it's like getting a discount. It's a built in incentive to spend them.

I may or may not subscribe to your politics, but you are sorely mistaken if you think bitcoin stops most of the problems with the worlds financial system( unless you consider how Central Banks handle the money supply such a problem). Using BTC instead of USD or GBP changes nothing for Goldman-Sachs or Barclays but the denomination used to value the financial instruments they manipulate ( oh and maybe who's tax laws they have to evade).

Even if we are talking about comercial banking as apposed to investment banking, little changes.Bitcoin is just a protocol. However, as more people interact with it via exchanges that may hold their private keys(think mtgox,bitconica, etc), we start to see things that look a lot like comercial banks: organizations run by people entrusted with the currency you store with them. The owners of these "banks",whether we white guys tanned by trips to the cayman islands and the vineyard or monitor-tanned cipher-punks of some more cuddly ethnicity/gender, can and eventually will abuse that privilege. The will abscond with peoples money, commit fraud, issue bad lonas and do any number of other things with it. Moreover, in the case of bitcoin exchanges,there is very little regulation and no legal recourse in the event of theft or default(since all transactions are final and there is no FDIC for bitcoin).

You had me up until the "very little regulation and no legal recourse" part at the end. Theft is theft and believe me, there are regulations against that.

There is regulation against theft( though does any legal authority investigate bitcoin thefts?) . I meant regulations dealing what bitcoin exchanges can do with your money or what steps they have to take to protect it. For example, although I don't think any bitcoin exchanges loan out money yet, if they did, there is no amount they are required to keep as a minimum balance to cover withdrawals (unless the government legally deems them a bank, in which case my entire post is irrelevant)

... You use the exchange for exactly that, exchanging bitcoins, not holding them. Yes an exchange may possess your coins right after you convert your dollars to BTC, but you can just put them in your own account to be held for free.... That wouldn't give the exchange much time to do anything with your money.

I would imagine that even if for some strange reason the Secret Service (who likely would investigate something like this) didn't pick up your claim you would still have grounds for a civil suit. Just insert sympathetic jury!

Unreliable ? Where?


How can a currency become a bank? You have a very strange definition of the word bank. I don't even know what you're trying to say.

Downvoting, really? That's like me saying "USD is becoming a bank! And that's awful!".

I think he's referring to the centralization rising up around the currency, not necessarily the currency itself.

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