Visa, the payments giant, ordered cryptocurrency debit card providers to suspend their services on Friday, according to three of the affected companies.
Bitcoin payments processor BitPay announced in a statement that its European card issuer, Wave Crest Holdings, Ltd., had been told by Visa to close its bitcoin accounts. The company will refund any remaining balances, as well as card order fees for anyone who purchased a card after Dec. 1, 2017.
According to BitPay:
“Yesterday our European BitPay Card issuer Wave Crest Holdings, Ltd. received direction from Visa® to immediately close all accounts of its prepaid Visa® debit card programs. The BitPay Card (non-US) is one of these programs, along with other cryptocurrency-related and standard prepaid Visa® debit cards. Unfortunately, Wave Crest was unable to provide us or cardholders with more time to prepare for this change.”
Similarly, payment providers Cryptopay and Bitwala announced they would be ceasing their services and returning remaining funds.
Berlin-based Bitwala said on Twitter that its team was holding an emergency meeting to discuss the issue. However, London-based Cryptopay announced in a subsequent tweet that it had already begun negotiating with another card issuer.
Similarly, BitPay said in its statement that it was “already in discussions with potential alternative issuers.”
Notably, the shutdowns appear limited to European consumers. BitPay stated that U.S. customers would not experience any disruptions.
Less than a year ago, BitPay announced it was expanding to 131 countries at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2017 conference. Its cards allow users to fill their balances with cryptocurrencies, but spend in euros, British pounds, or U.S. dollars.
Visa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in BitPay.
App image via BitPay