Decrypt’s Art, Fashion, and Entertainment Hub.
Crypto debit card maker Wirex has created 26 fiat-backed stablecoins on the Stellar network so its users can spend USD, EUR and other fiat equivalents anywhere that accepts VISA. In addition, Wirex is adding Stellar Lumens to its list of supported cryptocurrencies.
The Wirex crypto debit card is designed for storing cryptocurrencies and transferring them into fiat money to spend using the VISA network. The stablecoins will similarly need to be transferred into fiat money since VISA doesn’t yet support stablecoins—although the conversion should be a little easier. This provides its users with both the disadvantage of using stablecoins—which are not always exactly stable—and the disadvantage of making normal card payments, such as high transaction fees for merchants.
It all begs the question: who is this useful for?
Apparently “everyone,” according to Jed McCaleb, cofounder of Stellar, who waxed lyrical in the press release that, “we’re excited to be working with Wirex to launch its first stablecoins to help make money more fluid and open to everyone.”
To use the Wirex debit card, one would first buy the stablecoin with fiat money. Then, in order to spend the money, the stablecoin is converted back into fiat and the actual payment is made with a normal VISA transaction. Which makes this a rather circular system.
The stablecoins can also be used for international payments—but only between Wirex users. These types of in-house, fast and cheap payments can already be done using challenger banks such as Monzo or Revolut, which just use traditional banking rails. This makes it difficult to see the advantages of using stablecoins in this way.
Wirex cofounder Pavel Mateev stated, “Both companies share a greater goal—encouraging the mass adoption of digital currencies and transforming the way people make payments.”
Unfortunately, it looks like people won’t be doing anything any differently. And if you want your money back, well, that will cost you $15.