The number of Bitcoin users exceeded 60 million, while the number of active Bitcoin wallets, the wallets that were involved in transactions in the last 24 hours, has been steadily staying around a million during the last months.
This statistical data contrasts markedly with the growth pace of one of the most underestimated spheres in the crypto industry – crypto cards, an analog for bank cards. The number of cardholders from various issuers is only nearing 1 million. Why is there such a difference between the growth rates of the crypto industry as a whole and the crypto cards industry?
Key Statistics on Bitcoin users
- The number of Bitcoin addresses is 63 million, according to Blockchain.com
- The number of Bitcoin addresses with at least 1$ is more than 31.8 million, according to BitInfoCharts, while the number of wallets active daily (that participated in transactions either as senders or recipients) is more than 1.1 million.
- American crypto exchange Coinbase reports that its user base exceeded 35 million. Some of those may have no separate Bitcoin wallet as they may use the exchange account both for trading and storing cryptocurrencies, although it is not advisable from a security point of view.
- 9% of European residents admitted to owning one of the cryptocurrencies at some point, according to the sociological poll by ING International Survey. In Turkey, the number of such residents constitutes 18%.
Although there are millions of people who own cryptocurrencies, the market for supportive financial products that allow using cryptocurrencies in everyday life is still in its infancy. In fact, currently, cryptocurrencies are more widely used for investments or trading than for everyday purchases.
A bank card is one of the most convenient payment instruments without which it is hard to imagine shopping. Visa, MasterCard, and AmEx are so deeply embedded in our lives that in some countries, for example in Sweden, the rates of cash usage is already lower than bank card usage.
The first attempts to create a bank card analog to bridge banking and the crypto industry were made more than 5 years ago. Putting to the side the first trials to issue a crypto card in 2012-2013 by BitInstant, the founders of which became defendants in the money laundering case in the US, the first debit bitcoin card was issued by the processing service BitPay in 2016.
The users could charge up their card account with cryptocurrencies, pay for goods via POS-terminals, and withdraw fiat money at ATMs. Similar projects followed the steps of BitPay and promised the crypto holders a convenient tool for everyday purchases.
Nevertheless, the total number of holders of cards issued by most popular emitents is far from great: even the most optimistic count does not exceed a million. The main reason behind the low popularity of existing crypto cards is the unsuitable approach to charging up card accounts.
A Mistake at the Starting Line
Every crypto card has its specifics. But most of the crypto cards share a similar feature – the process of charging up card accounts. To charge up a card with crypto, crypto holders must at first create a personal account with a wallet on the platform of the card eminent.
At first, cryptocurrencies must be transferred to the wallet (a current account) within the platform, and only then a crypto holder can charge up the card account. Moreover, upon depositing to a card account, cryptocurrencies are instantly converted to fiat currencies like US dollars or Euro.
In some countries accepting cryptocurrencies as means of payment is illegal, while sometimes it might be unbeneficial for merchants. After all, businesses in most cases pay for production costs, rental of premises, and taxes in fiat money.
To combine satisfying the crypto holders’ need for paying with digital coins and merchants’ desire to receive fiat, there are payment gateways that allow instant conversion of cryptocurrencies to fiat.
Such gateways are a win-win solution: buyers can pay with crypto, while sellers receive payments in the fiat currency of their choice. Thanks to state-of-the-art technologies, these transactions are almost seamless and easy for both a buyer and a seller.
Therefore, crypto holders are offered an option to store a portion of their coins not in the wallet of their choice but in the account at a certain platform. This process looks very similar to the one used with traditional bank cards.
When a bank client receives a debit or credit card, the bank opens an account. But what might be fitting in the banking industry, might be not suitable for the crypto industry that was created as an alternative to traditional financial institutions.
The idea of cryptocurrencies is built on such values as independence and full control over funds that stays in the hands of the holder. No wonder that the requirement to store currencies in the third-party account turned many users away from crypto cards.
In 2020, European virtual bank TTM Bank introduced a new approach to charging up crypto cards. TTM Bank crypto cards, as similar financial products, are charged up with cryptocurrencies. But with TTM Bank, users do not need to first transfer digital assets to the current account of the associated service, contrary to the requirements of other emitents.
In this case, crypto holders can charge up the card account directly from the wallet of their choice. Thus, TTM Bank users do not lose control over their cryptocurrencies and do not transfer coins for storage to other services.
The TTM Bank crypto card is accepted everywhere: it can be used at shops, restaurants, for paying for goods and services on the internet. The distribution, delivery, and management of card accounts are handled by the company’s partner, the financial services operator UAB Walletto, a Lithuanian-registered company that is a member of the VISA payment network.
Thanks to that, TTM Bank crypto cards can be used at any place where VISA is accepted. It is also possible to withdraw cash at ATMs with the TTM Bank card. The withdrawal fee is just €1,5+2%.
Currently, TTM Bank cards can be charged up with five digital assets (BTC, ETH, USDT, BNB и TRX). Upon depositing, cryptocurrencies are instantly converted to Euro. In the future, TTM Bank plans to integrate an option to charge up the crypto card with a traditional banking card. In this case, the sum will be written off in fiat.
The TTM Bank card issuance takes minimum time and information. To receive a TTM Bank crypto card, a user must confirm the email, fill in the profile (name, surname, address of residence, and citizenship), and pass a standard KYC procedure. In some countries, users will be asked to demonstrate ID-document. Upon registration, a client will have two options: a virtual or plastic card.
“The TTM Bank card is a convenient tool for daily purchases, not for storage of the assets. We hold to the view that full control over cryptocurrencies should stay in the hands of the holder since this is exactly what makes crypto stand out. This is a type of card we all desired – a card that lets you feel the independence from banks in full. And we were not alone in this desire. Data speaks for itself. In less than a year since launch, the number of TTM Bank crypto cardholders has exceeded 40,000”, shared Vladislav Utushkin, CEO of TTM Bank.