Coinbase Becomes Visa Principal Member

Visa has handed cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase the blue checkmark. On Wednesday, Coinbase said it was the “first pure-play cryptocurrency company” to become a Visa principal member. 

What does this title bequeath? Financial players authorized by Visa reportedly act as “issuing banks” that provide cards and transaction processing services. It’s good news for Coinbase Card, a Visa debit card the company launched in the U.K. last year. The card is now available in 29 European markets. 

  • How the card works: Users can pay or withdraw cash (so 2008) from their Coinbase account balance at any Visa-compatible payment terminal or ATM. They choose which tokens—bitcoin, ethereum, and more—to spend, and the card converts that cryptocurrency into fiat currency accepted by the merchant. Fees apply, per usual. 

Zoom out: Coinbase has steadily expanded offerings to draw new users into the fold. The endgame for CEO Brian Armstrong? As he told Forbes, making crypto “a global, open financial system that [drives] innovation and freedom.”