One of the nagging difficulties that hinders the broad-based adoption of cryptocurrencies by non-crypto enthusiasts in every day commerce is–at least according to the crypto enthusiast community–the difficulty in spending your crypto. While it is all well and good to hope for a global movement away from fiat currencies towards a utopia in which all currency is stored on a democratic blockchain, the reality is that fiat currency remains orders of magnitude easier to spend than cryptocurrency.
True, companies such as PayPal and others are making headway towards enabling consumers to more easily spend cryptocurrency at everyday merchants. Yet the fact remains that a dollar is markedly easier to spend because the entire banking, checking account, credit card, and debit card infrastructure is built around enabling you to spend dollars easily.
Enter the ZenGo Card with Visa. ZenGo just announced that it is entering the Visa Fintech Fast Track program with the intention of releasing the ZenGo Visa Card in early 2021. The ZenGo Card will be usable like a debit card anywhere that Visa is accepted and, so the company says, make it far easier to use your cryptocurrency in day-to-day life.
Features of the ZenGo Card
ZenGo is a cryptocurrency wallet startup with the stated mission to “make crypto accessible and usable to anyone, anywhere in the world.” The company understands that this is only achievable with an “elegant and simple way” to utilize the digital currencies that you own in your day-to-day life.
Taking a step back, ZenGo is a startup in the crypto wallet space that takes a non-custodial approach. Unlike other custodial crypto wallet companies like CoinBase, ZenGo does not rely on centralized systems that store your funds and keys (used to unlock your crypto funds) centrally. Perhaps the most major advantage to ZenGo’s approach is that a biometric scan of your face (e.g. Apple’s Face ID) unlocks your ZenGo crypto wallet.
With a centralized wallet, you must remember a password to access your funds. If the password is forgotten or lost, recovery of the funds is difficult if not impossible. Further–as happens at least a couple times each year of late–if the centralized wallet is hacked, all the funds could be stolen with little, if any, recourse.
ZenGo, by comparison, uses an escrow-trustee model that ensures you have control of your crypto funds and, should the company ever go out of business, can access and recover your crypto funds via the trustee’s actions.
The above background is important because it represents–in our view–an important innovation when combined with the ZenGo Card.
Having control of your crypto assets without a hard-to-remember password, an easy off-ramp (via ZenGo) to convert crypto to USD, and a debit card with which to spend that currency actually makes for a combination that sounds like it works. Admittedly, there are more steps involved to make the ZenGo card really useful than there are with a traditional checking account.
ZenGo also brings powerful tools and protections to bear for its users. With the app, you are able to choose between the cryptocurrencies in your wallet that you want to spend, and add/convert cryptocurrencies to and from dollars. From a security perspective, the debit card for spending dollars is isolated from the crypto wallet so you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your card and then being able to access your stores of crypto currency.
- Crypto is easily spendable at Visa-accepting merchants
- ZenGo’s app allows for easy management of your crypto and fiat funds
- Isolation of your crypto assets from your debit card means thieves cannot access your crypto wallet if they steal your debit card
- Required conversion of crypto currency to fiat currency in order to be spent
- Tied to the Visa network
- Exposed to crypto market fluctuations and transaction costs when converting crypto to US Dollars
Will the ZenGo card revolutionize the way the public uses crypto currency in everyday transactions? Seems unlikely, at least in the near term.
However, given ZenGo’s escrow-trustee model (and the beefed up security and recovery options that this choice gives its consumers) and the ease-of-use afforded them by the Visa card the company is about to debut, it’s a strong step towards more mass adoption.
Crypto currency sitting in a wallet is a speculative investment. Crypto currency sitting in a wallet that can easily be converted to a spendable fiat currency… that’s something entirely more useful.