For quite some time now, there have been discussions as to whether Bitcoin can succeed as a payment method. To date, the answer is a resounding “no, but it has potential”. The role of payment cards will only become more outspoken until real solutions are found.
Payment Cards Facilitate Bitcoin Transactions
Even though a lot of people want to see it happen, Bitcoin may never become a mainstream payment option. The network is ill-suited to facilitate real-world transactions on a large scale. It is the unfortunate and painful truth. Whether Lightning Network technology will help improve this situation, remains to be seen. At best, it can be used for transactions up to a limit, similar to contactless transactions.
Until anything major changes, the easiest way to spend Bitcoin is through payment cards. Multiple service providers can be explored, including Uphold, Wirex, Crypto.com, Swipe, and many others. This way of spending cryptocurrency isn’t new either. It has been around for years, and successfully remains possible despite the Wavecrest incident a few years ago.
What makes payment cards appealing is their broad support. More specifically, dozens of millions of merchants accept Visa and Mastercard transactions. In the real world, it is by far the most common non-cash payment method. Online, they are commonplace as well.
One can argue payment cards aren’t designed for online transactions. They lack the necessary security features to be “safe”. Despite numerous data breaches every year, credit and debit cards remain increasingly popular. As such, they will be more than capable of elevating Bitcoin payments to a whole new level.
The Electronic Cash System
In the original whitepaper, Bitcoin is labelled as “the electronic cash system”. It is also mentioned as peer-to-peer, albeit that is virtually required for any transactions these days. Unlike what Satoshi Nakamoto envisioned, it seems required to rely on centralized middlemen in the process. That is, after all, what payment cards do: centralize the way payments are being handled.
Now that PayPal gets in on the action, it will be interesting to see what happens. The payment processor is known for supporting payment cards. Whether that will apply to Bitcoin-oriented cards as well, remains to be determined. It can prove a valuable way of spending Bitcoin in even more ways.
In the end, there is still a long way to go for Bitcoin. For now, leveraging centralized payment rails is required. That situation can change at any given moment, yet seems rather unlikely. The coming years will undoubtedly prove intriguing, for many different reasons.
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