Cryptocurrencies are becoming mainstream. Today you can shop using Bitcoin, Litecoin, or ETH in a growing list of online and brick and mortar stores. Some fintech startups are making the process of shopping with crypto even easier, and one way they are doing this is through the use of conventional debit and credit cards.
Indeed, the crypto cards market is burgeoning at the moment. Dozens of brands are competing to turn enthusiastic crypto users into customers. The most visible brands in the space include ClubSwan, Coinbase, BitPay, Binance Card, and Wirex.
However, up until this point, most of these crypto cards have seemed to offer more or less the same experience for the customer.
As a customer, you sign up online for the service, and a debit card is shipped to you in days or weeks, depending on where you are located and the efficiency of the issuing company. While waiting for the physical card to arrive, you often have access to a virtual copy through the company portal.
When the physical card arrives, you are expected to activate it. The activation process involves adding a secret code on the card to your online account. Meanwhile, the issuing company assigns you a conventional bank account where the fiat currency is deposited before sending it to merchants when you shop.
Besides the bank account, your crypto card is usually linked to a crypto wallet, which serves as the source of funds. You can have as many as the number of cryptocurrencies on the debit card. The early crypto cards supported only Bitcoin. Today some of the cards support hundreds of different crypto assets.
Also linked to your card is an exchange, this is a marketplace where you can sell and buy crypto. Whenever you need to load your card so that you can shop, you send some crypto from your wallet to the exchange, and an equivalent amount of fiat currency such as the US dollar, based on the reigning exchange rate, is sent to the card bank account.
The reason crypto debit cards can be used in millions of stores around the world, most of which don’t know anything about crypto or are not interested in accepting the private currencies, is the fact that they are supported by mainstream payment processors, in particular Visa, Mastercard, and Unionpay.
A crypto card is simply another Visa, Mastercard, or Unionpay card to the merchant.
The Clubswan Debit Card
ClubSwan made a late entry into the market. It is about a year old in the market. However, in many ways, it seems to have caught up with many of the brands that established themselves early.
In late 2021, I applied for the ClubSwan debit card. I was not sure what to expect, but based on what I read on their site, it seemed like a good idea to give them a shot. The signup process was straightforward.
However, since ClubSwan Club Swan card is a regulated electronic money product in the UK, it is expected to meet AMAL regulations. That means as a customer, you need to provide them with a government-issued identification document.
It took about a week and a half to reach me in Nairobi, Kenya. Before the card arrived, I could access an online account and convert between crypto and fiat. ClubSwan assigned me two bank accounts, one for the dollar and another for Euro.
The ClubSwan account also comes with linked crypto wallets. Besides Bitcoin, the card supports Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Basic Attention Token (BAT), and EOS. It also supports the Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC) stablecoins.
To become a member of ClubSwan, you have to choose a particular tier, ranging from Starter, Premier, VIP, to Chairman. The higher the tier, the more features, and benefits you get. For example, someone on Starter has an account limit of $50000. Meanwhile, someone on the Chairman tier has no account limit.
The ClubSwan approach.
Several things make Clubswan different from the other crypto cards in the market. They include the following:
1) Membership club
ClubSwan as an entity is a membership club. Most of the other cards are issued by exchanges and payment processors. As a member, you access various benefits, such as discounts from partner merchants and travel service providers.
2) Gift card management
ClubSwan provides the mechanism for a user to receive, send and spend gift cards from various major brands from a single window.
3) Affiliate program for members
ClubSwan has an affiliate program accessible only to members and cardholders. From your account on the portal, you can refer family, friends, and others and get 20% of the fee they pay to join.
For example, if someone you refer chooses to pick the VIP tier, you receive $239.00 (USD). If you get three successful referrals, you qualify to upgrade your membership to the next tier at no extra cost.
This is a critical part of the ClubSwan experience. At any time of the day, you can reach out to customer support with challenges you have with both the card and the exchange.
More importantly, though, you get a ClubSwan virtual assistant to do various tasks for you, such as arrange your travel, do personal shopping, and arrange to have you attend VIP events. This saves precious time and money.
5) Fast conversion
The conversion between fiat and crypto is near-instant. This makes it possible to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the crypto market. You don’t have to get through many hoops or wait for an unnecessarily long time to buy or sell at an advantageous price point.
6) Many countries supported
The card can be shipped to and used in many countries especially compared to the competitors. The card is shipped to over 100 countries.
Meanwhile, you can use it wherever the mainstream payment processors Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
The expressing yourself component
Debit cards are mostly treated as functional tools. They facilitate spending money and shopping with a lot more convenience.
The ClubSwan debit card is also functional. However, the issuing company has chosen to use existing technology to make it a tool for expressing yourself.
Using a debit or credit card for aesthetics is not a new idea, at least at the basic level. We have had gold metal plated debit cards issued to those who can afford them, making them stand out from the crowd.
What ClubSwan is doing differently is making it more about expression through art rather than opulence. The company is doing this through art: non-fungible token (NFT) on the Blockchain.
The blockchain through NFT innovation has made it easier and more efficient to manage art and, in particular, its copyright while at the same time making it available to the public.
It is important to point out that the artistic expression of the ClubSwan debit card is a feature they have only insinuated about releasing in the coming months.
At the moment, the card is valuable at shopping using crypto and also taking advantage of emerging opportunities in the crypto markets.