Singapore startup takes bitcoin into real world with Visa

TenX debit card.Source: TenX via Bloomberg

A recurring challenge for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is how to make them work in the real world. A Singapore-based startup says the answer is its Visa card.

TenX is pitching its debit card as an instant converter of multiple digital currencies into fiat money: the dollars, yen, and euros that power most everyday commerce. The company said it takes a 2 percent cut from each transaction and has received orders for more than 10,000 cards. While transactions are capped at $2,000 a year, users can apply to increase the limit if they undergo identify verification procedures.

TenX’s bid to make digital currencies easier to spend comes amid massive volatility and infighting within the cryptocurrency community. Bitcoin, the most popular, slumped after reaching a record in June amid concerns about a split in two, only to recover as fears faded. The company has built an app that serves as a digital wallet connected to the Visa card so that when it’s swiped at a cafe or restaurant, the merchant is paid in local currency and the users’ crypto account is debited.

“You’re mixing two worlds that are night and day,” co-founder Julian Hosp said in an interview. “When the user spends the cryptocurrency, we have to instantly switch these currencies to fiat and pay to Visa straight away. It’s a lot of pathways.”

Hosp said transactions are processed immediately and it doesn’t impose any charges on top of the conversion fee that is set by cryptocurrency exchanges, which typically is 0.15 to 0.2 percent. The card now supports eight digital currencies, including the lesser-known dash and augur, and aims to offer about 11 of them by the end of the year.

TenX currently processes about $100,000 of transactions a month. By the end of 2018, it’s targeting $100 million in monthly transactions and a million users.

TenX has an advantage in moving early, but the startup can expect competition in the future from major financial institutions and venture capitalists with deeper pockets and direct access to clients and databases, said Mati Greenspan, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based analyst at social trading platform eToro.

“It’s an incredible concept,” said Greenspan. “At the end of the day, it’s going to depend a lot on customer relations. Are they meeting the customers’ expectations? Can somebody else do it better?”

TenX’s efforts to make digital currencies spendable come as it joined the many blockchain-based startups taking advantage of initial coin offerings. ICOs are a cross between crowdfunding and an initial public offering that firms use to raise funds by issuing digital tokens rather than stock.

In its token sale last month, TenX raised $80 million with about half to be used to expand operations while the rest will provide liquidity for a cryptocurrency exchange in the works, said Hosp.

The company had previously raised $120,000 from angel investors and $1 million in a seed round led by venture capital firm Fenbushi Capital, which lists Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, as a general partner. TenX isn’t expecting to become profitable in the next two years as it focuses on expanding services.

“One thing we want to offer in the end, is that you can switch cryptocurrencies within the app,” said Hosp. “If we do this, we can become the market maker, which can bring in a lot of revenue.”

Also Read:

Bitcoin Exchange Coinbase seeks new funds at $1b valuation

Bitcoin’s top rival is up 90% and ready to ditch mining

Real money hasn’t started playing in Bitcoin: Marcus Swanepoel, Luno

Bloomberg 

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.