Visa locks down prepaid cryptocurrency cards, hitting bitcoin and ethereum users

BitPay, Cryptopay and Bitwala all have their cards suspended

Saturday 06 January 2018 01:29 GMT
What is Bitcoin and why is its price so high?

Shoppers using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum were hit after Visa locked down some pre-paid cards by blocking a single provider.

BitPay, Cryptopay and Bitwala have all had their cards suspended as of 5 January, meaning they cannot be used to pay for goods on the high street.

Their services are provided through WaveCrest, which is based in Gibraltar.

The pre-paid cards allow users to buy leading cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum, transfer them onto the card and use them in the same way as a traditional bank card.

Visa said in a statement: “We can confirm that WaveCrest’s Visa membership is being terminated due to non-compliance with our operating rules. All WaveCrest-issued Visa card programmes will be closed as a result.

“The termination of WaveCrest’s Visa membership does not affect other Visa issuers’ card programmes, including those using fiat funds converted from cryptocurrency.

“Visa is committed to the security of its ecosystem and compliance with Visa’s operating rules is critical for ensuring the safety and integrity of the Visa payment system. Our issuers’ card programmes must comply with our membership regulations, as well as all applicable laws.”

All three of the pre-paid cryptocurrency card companies took to social media to release statements about the suspension.

BitPay said: “Yesterday our European BitPay card issuer received direction from Visa to immediately close all accounts of its prepaid Visa debit programs”.

In its statement Cryptopay said all funds would be returned to users.

“Unfortunately, our card issuer instructed us to cease all Cryptopay prepaid cards starting 5 January, 2018.”

Bitwala said it would hold an “emergency meeting” in an attempt to resolve the issue.

“Following an announcement from our card issuer on behalf of Visa Europe, Bitwala cards are taken out of operation starting today. Our team is holding an emergency meeting to resolve the issue with the card holders' best interest in mind and will make an update shortly.”

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that can be used to buy or sell items from people and companies.

Interest has been sparked recently after bitcoin saw an increase in value in 2017 from $1000 to just $20,000.

This story has been updated with Visa's statement and to clarify the scope of the blocks on cards.

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