Q&A: New 'cryptocurrencies debit card' launches in the UK

Benjamin Dives, CEO and co-founder of the London Block Exchange tells us what it means

If cryptocurrencies are the biggest news story around at the minute then the London Block Exchange (LBX) has firmly jumped on that bandwagon. Based in London, and dedicated to the UK markets, this claims to be the first organisation to offer a sterling to crypto exchange across five digital currencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and Monero). The aim is to make these easier to purchase and easier to use – via a dedicated pre-paid debit card (the Dragoncard) that works on the VISA system.

Funded by anonymous private investors, LBX will operate at volume-based fees at first (0.5% fee on buy or sell) “but will be looking at competitive fixed fee options in the future too,” Benjamin Dives, CEO and co-founder, of LBX explained in a topline pre-launch interview. More importantly, unlike other platforms we offer a competitive exchange rate.” There is an upfront fee of £20 ($26) for the Dragoncard, which includes postage, admin and the initial sign-up fee to the site.

“We aim to be the de facto exchange for Britons within six months,” Dives said.

A short Q&A IDG Connect conducted with Dives this morning can be found below.

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How does this work in practice?

Users can load either cryptocurrency or sterling onto their accounts and, when they go to spend using the card, they can choose to either auto-sell or exchange some cryptocurrency or use the existing sterling balance.

If an individual uses the credit card can they choose which cryptocurrency they pay with?

Yes, they’ll be able to select which cryptocurrency they want to sell for sterling and then pay.

Is it really viable to pay with cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, when they are so volatile? (The fellow who famously spent all those Bitcoins on pizza must be kicking himself right now.)

The volatility is about 5-15% per day. If you feel like capitalising on that profit, then we’ve made it really easy for you. You’ll be told the exchange rate at the time of sale, so you can check it before you go up to the till and presell your cryptocurrency if you prefer.

What are the wider business implications of something like this?

It means that any cryptocurrency or token can now be used in the real world. It avoids the issues around confirmation times for blockchain.

Are similar services to this available in other markets?

Yes, I believe so. What makes LBX different is that we want to make cryptocurrency exchange easily and accessible for everyone.

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Do you have plans to expand it into other regions?

Yes, the next stop is Europe. Watch this space.

Do you see this expanding to cover other cryptocurrencies as new tokens are emerging all the time?

We will be adding between two and five new cryptocurrencies every month after launch.

What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to cryptocurrencies?

That it’s for nerds only and that it’s like the tulip bubble. Cryptocurrency is here to stay.

How do you think the use of cryptocurrencies will pan out long term?

Cryptocurrencies will continue to grow as interest and understanding grows. The next exciting phase is a real-world application of smart contracts. Cryptocurrency is just one aspect of a decentralised ledger, and when you combine that with the concept of a global computer, you have something that humanity has never experienced before.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’m really excited about the launch of the exchange to the financial services market, where we think there is huge latent demand for a credible, trustworthy partner who understands blockchain. We feel that we can occupy that centre ground with the team and technology we have in place.