Fold, a bitcoin payments startup, has joined forces with traditional payments giant Visa to bring the original cryptocurrency that much further into the mainstream.
On Thursday, April 9th, Fold unveiled the new Fold Card, which the company hailed as the “first bitcoin rewards card.” The card, which can be applied for now and will be launched later in 2020, will offer bitcoin-back rewards ranging between 1 to 2 percent on USD purchases.
The card will also be good anywhere Visa cards are accepted, which is far and wide — think Amazon to Uber and plenty in between.
The major bitcoin rewards development comes as part of Fold joining the Visa Fintech Fast Track program, which helps young companies more effectively use the mainstream payments powerhouse’s financial infrastructure. Upon the program’s arrival in the U.S. last summer, Visa explained of it:
“Fast Track aims to speed up the process of integrating with Visa, to allow nimble start-ups the ability to more easily leverage the reach, capabilities, and security VisaNet, the company’s global payment network, offers, thereby helping fintechs scale more quickly.”
Toward Winning Over the Mainstream
Fold’s arrival in the Visa Fast Track program makes it the first firm from the cryptocurrency industry to earn that honor.
“By joining Visa’s Fast Track program, exciting Fintechs like Fold gain unprecedented access to Visa experts, technology, and resources,” said Terry Angelos, Visa’s head of global fintech initiatives and also a senior vice president with the company, on the news.
Notably, Fold already offers significant bitcoin-back rewards — in some cases, more than 15 percent of a user’s purchase price — via the company’s flagship mobile app. But a crypto app is still a crypto app and lacks the tangible familiarity that a debit card like the Fold Card can offer to mainstream users.
For spenders that want a simple way to crack into the bitcoin space, then, the coming Fold Card will offer an ideal solution, the startup’s CEO Will Reeves said in an April 9th press release:
“What we noticed at Fold is that plenty of people are interested in participating in the growing bitcoin economy but aren’t sure how to get started. Fold makes it easy for anyone to get their first piece of bitcoin when using the Fold card to earn bitcoin rewards on any purchase.”
In that vein, Russell Okung — an NFL player who’s become popular in the cryptoeconomy for becoming a major bitcoin proponent — said the card “represents a significant step towards mainstream adoption of Bitcoin.” Okung is both an advisor to, and an investor in, Fold.
Thesis Continues Making Moves
Fold is a startup spoke of the blockchain venture studio Thesis.
In the process of helping to build out the payments app, the leadership at Thesis realized they wanted a reliable way to privately store data in public.
That realization led to the studio’s development of the Keep network, a “privacy layer” for blockchains like Ethereum that allows “contracts to manipulate off-chain private data securely without risk from a third party,” Keep’s team has explained.
The first app built on Keep is tBTC, a bitcoin-pegged Ethereum token that is aimed at bringing an entirely trustless version of bitcoin into Ethereum’s rising decentralized finance sector.
Both the Keep network and tBTC are slated to go live in late April 2020, so it’s fair to say that between those projects’ imminent launches and Fold’s new partnership with Visa, these past few weeks have been the biggest ones yet for Thesis.
All the current productivity bodes well for Thesis going forward, too. In other words, if this is all that the venture studio has accomplished now, imagine where it may be in 5 years.