A new pre-loaded bitcoin card launched this week in Singapore, allowing users to buy small amounts of bitcoin and import the value easily into wallet software.
The cards come from Singapore startup 8pip, a subsidiary of CoinPip, in denominations of S$50 and S$100 (S$100 = US$80). Each card has a serial number and private key, which buyers then take to the CardToCoin website and redeem the amount loaded on the card.
It's CoinPip's second new bitcoin venture in a short time, having recently introduced the SMS wallet/payment system developed by US-based 37coins.
The company is also sponsoring the BOOST:Bitcoin events to introduce newcomers to bitcoin. There have been three events in Asia so far: Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore itself, where 8pip launched CardToCoin and its cards.
CoinPip and its partners are gaining a reputation in their quest to find bitcoin payment services outside the 'traditional' smartphone-desktop environment. The key to worldwide bitcoin adoption lies just as much in the developing and emerging markets of the world as elsewhere, perhaps even more so.
People without ready access to banks tend to lack reliable internet connections and the latest consumer technology, so need a way to exchange bitcoins via the devices they have at hand: older mobile phones or something not electronic at all.
8pip's cards and the CardToCoin service aren't aimed just at the emerging world, though. Purchasing physical bitcoin value for later import into a wallet is a safe and convenient option for those in the world's most switched-on cities as well.
If you're new to bitcoin, or only looking to acquire bitcoin in small, spendable amounts, the cards are a good way to avoid lengthy verification processes and other hurdles sometimes associated with online exchanges.
Anson Zeall, co-founder of both CoinPip and 8pip, believes CardToCoin will make bitcoin more accessible to the general public and help demystify the idea of bitcoin.
"At the moment, bitcoin or cryptocurrency exchanges are the most common ways to get bitcoin," he said.
"The problem is, unless you're a seasoned stock trader, the process to get bitcoin is still very complicated and intimidating. With CardToCoin, for example, you can simply buy a card with S$20 worth of bitcoin and then redeem it online with your tablet, phone or PC."
8pip says it will release more details about CardToCoin retail partners and future products in the coming months.
CoinPip's more traditional bitcoin app for businesses, CoinPip Merchant was launched on the Google Play store for Android devices in April.
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