Bitwala Debit Card Review
Bitwala is a progressive approach to money transfers in the digital age. It harnesses the power of blockchain technology to let users send money, receive money, and add money to debit cards. The platform even makes it possible to pay bills with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. There are more than 15,000 Bitwala users around the world in 120 countries. This makes it one of the more popular Bitcoin debit cards available today.
Bitwala is building the future of money transfers. The blockchain based banking offers a fast and low cost option to send money, pay bills and top up debit cards. Bitwala issues prepaid debit cards that can be used with 20 currencies and with 44 cryptocurrencies worldwide. The 15 000+ Bitwala users are spread across 120 countries using everyday one of the fiat or cryptocurrencies with great pleasure
About Bitwala - Bitwala.com
Imagine a debit card that can process 20 different fiat currencies and 44 cryptocurrencies. That is what you get with Bitwala. Three cryptocurrency enthusiasts founded the company. They, and their mascot French bulldog, prefer Dogecoin but are well-versed in almost all digital coins. The company has its headquarters in Berlin and was created in 2012.
The driving force behind the company is its CEO, Jorg von Minckwit. Minckwit created Bitwala but is also a founder of Bitcoins Berlin, one of the top incubators for Bitcoin startups in Europe. Ben Jones has vast experience in international money transfers. He handles the technical aspects of the company and is passionate about Bitcoin. The COO of the company is Jan Goslicki. He handles customer service and many other logistics for the company. Both Jones and Goslicki also have experience creating web applications, and their influence helps to make the Bitwala website run smoothly.
It is a strong plus that this company is very transparent about its founders. It is also beneficial that all of them have the industry experience needed to run an operation of this kind. Those who choose this company can do so with confidence that they are doing business with reputable operators.
Services offered by Bitwala
The primary responsibility of the company is issuing plastic and virtual debit cards. These prepaid debit cards can be loaded with 20 different currencies including the USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, AUD, and some South American currencies. It is also possible to load a Bitwala card with 44 different cryptocurrencies thanks to the company’s partnership with ShapeShift.
In addition to Bitcoin, users can add funds with Litecoin, Dogecoin, Monero, Zcash, and more. It should be noted that the integration of some digital coins is in beta, so there may be issues from time to time. The good news is that company seems to be progressing quickly in the development of its platform. Another plus is that the support team at Bitwala does an excellent job of handling customer issues as they arise.
Bitwala debit cards can be used at any merchants that accept Visa-branded debit cards. The plastic card can also be used to withdraw money from ATMs all over the world. A virtual card is available for those who want to spend their Bitcoins and other coins online. The virtual cards can also be used in Google Play and through an interface on the Bitwala website.
To receive a card, individuals must select from one of three membership options. The limits imposed on the use of the card vary according to the membership level selected. Level 1 only requires an email address to sign up. So, there is an option for anonymity. However, realize that stricter limits will be triggered when a user decides to choose the anonymous route. It is typically far better to accept verification and proceed in that fashion.
Level 2 requires verification with proof of identity and residence. Those who wish this account will generally be asked to provide a passport or ID as well as a utility bill or bank statement. The Level 3 account is only available to those who are willing to consent to a brief Skype interview and maintain a high balance.
We like how Bitwala stresses security. The fact that they insist on a visual interview before granting access to their higher levels of membership says a lot about how committed they are to the integrity and reputation of their business.
It is an unfortunate reality that individuals in the United States and India are excluded from Bitwala’s services. There are also some countries in Africa and the Middle East that cannot receive cards. On the positive side, the card is available to residents of Russia and China. This is significant because some cryptocurrency exchanges are blocked in these countries. A Bitwala debit card can offer a service that is somewhat comparable to an exchange in many respects. All-in-all, 129 countries are included in Bitwala’s service area.
Loading a Bitwala Bitcoin Debit Card
Bitwala can be funded with a variety of methods. Among the most popular of these is a bank transfer. Users can choose a base currency and then have their money loaded straight from their bank account. Bitwala uses the latest methods of encryption and security to protect the personal data of its users.
Unlike some other Bitcoin debit cards, Bitwala does not offer its own cryptocurrency wallet. It does, however, allow loading with multiple digital coin wallets. Users can load with their existing Bitcoin wallet, Litecoin wallet, Ethereum wallet or other digital wallets. Loading in this manner is safe and users should be confident that Bitwala will manage top-ups properly.
Bitwala Fees and Limits
Each membership level at Bitwala has its own fee schedule. Basic monthly limits which include all transfers TO or FROM the account are 500 EUR for Level 1, 2,000 EUR for Level 2, and 50,000 EUR for Level 3. It is possible for businesses to create an account with a limit of 100,000 EUR, but this account will require additional verification procedures for members.
Only Level 2 and Level 3 memberships have access to make unlimited purchases and ATM withdrawals. The limits on these accounts are 1,000 EUR in ATM withdrawals per transaction, and there is also a maximum of 2,000 EUR that can be withdrawn in a single day. There are no limits on how much money can be spent at retailers or shopping online.
To obtain a plastic or virtual Bitwala debit card, there is a cost of 2 EUR. This is one of the most reasonable fees that is charged by any issuer of Bitcoin debit cards. There is a monthly service charge of 1 EUR which is assessed to all accounts. PIN numbers for use at ATM machines cost 0.80 EUR. We would like to see this and other companies provide the PIN number for free, but this practice is standard at many providers.
It is free to have the plastic card shipped normally, and the card will typically arrive in 7-10 days. Those that need it sooner may request expedited shipping at a charge of 69 EUR. This is not insubstantial by any means. Expedited cards will arrive in 3-5 days, so the time frame between normal shipping and expedited shipping is not that much.
There is a charge for withdrawing money at ATM machines. It is, however, one of the lower rates in the industry. It costs 2.25 EUR to make domestic withdrawals (plus the fee charged by the ATM provider), and 2.75 EUR for international ATM use. There is also a 3% currency exchange fee that applies when international ATMs are used. This rate is also cheaper than many other cards provide.
Bitwala uses real-time market rates to determine their currency conversions. This adds a level of transparency to the company. Users can verify that they are being given a proper exchange rate. There is a commission, of course, just like there is on cryptocurrency exchanges, but the rate is fair and compliant with regulations regarding such fees.
The manner in which Bitwala operates means that the company cannot sell Bitcoins or other coins directly. This is why the company does not provide its own wallet. Users will have to purchase their Bitcoins on an exchange and add them to their own personal wallet before making a load to the Bitwala debit card.
Bitwala Service and Support
Bitwala has a functional website that is easy to navigate. The information users need is easy to find and access. One issue that could be resolved is that the website’s FAQ isn’t well structured. It would be helpful if the company included a search feature in the FAQ that would make it easier to find information. Even so, the FAQ does do a thorough job of answering questions if you can find what you are looking for.
This company gets high ratings for its customer service. They provide email and live chat support, and they also have a help desk on Skype. This is very useful when a customer needs to speak with a live representative. It is comforting to see the person you are talking to. The website offers a contact for for email support. Users just type in the information they need and hit submit. Someone on the customer service team will respond in a timely manner. The tickets created in this way also have a number so they can be tracked.
Live support is only offered from 10A.M. To 5 P.M. in the Berlin time zone. This may be inconvenient for individuals living in other parts of the world.
The company can be reached by email or contacted at the following social media accounts:
Our View of Bitwala
There are numerous positives when it comes to Bitwala. For one, the inclusion of multiple fiat and digital currencies is unequaled among debit card providers. This means more flexibility for users. Some of the fees charged by the company are significantly less that those charged by other providers.
Some will not like that Bitwala doesn’t actually sell cryptocurrencies. Other will not understand that Bitwala can provide a USD base currency card but will not issue cards to US residents. Despite the small number of negatives, this company appears poised to become one of the leaders in the industry.
We award Bitwala 4.25 out of 5 stars on our rating scale for Bitcoin debit cards.
Transparency of owners who work in the company on a daily basis
Very affordable fee structure
Supports 20 fiat currencies and 44 crypto coins with more on the way
using third party bitcoin exchanges, not own exchange price
FAQ has no search feature
Unavailable to US residents
Does not sell Bitcoins or other coins