If you’ve ever been hit by foreign transaction fees, you’ll probably have remembered your dream trip around the world less fondly.
We live in a global economy, but the infrastructure to deal with it doesn’t seem to have caught up. Financial companies still charge you for the crossing of borders and you’re largely restricted to a set of charge and bank cards you have to collect in your mailbox or go to a branch to get.
Shake: A new Bitcoin debit card
Shake aims to change all of that. You can issue as many cards as you’d like digitally for a variety of expenses by loading them with Bitcoin.
Importantly, you can choose to issue a card in different foreign currencies. Foreign currency charges still apply if you charge a card differently than the currency you issued it in, but since Shake seamlessly allows you to create as many cards as you want, you can simply prevent those charges by making sure that you issue a card for every situation.
You can also choose to receive SMS notifications every time a transaction is approved or denied on your Shake Bitcoin debit card.
This bypasses several financial constraints. You can travel around the world without worrying about foreign transaction fees. You can load your card with Bitcoin, and spend it wherever you want in whatever currency you issue, bypassing stores that don’t accept Bitcoin. Shake allows you to take advantage of NFC (near-field communications) payment technology, the same technology that powers Apple Pay.
Shake uses Visa’s financial infrastructure to back an innovative approach to democratizing the spend of bitcoin that comes with the security and ease of use required for anybody to start spending their money around the world.
I played around with it and figured out that you could issue a Bitcoin debit card with no daily purchase limit. The first tier of cards (dubbed the KYC Level 1) allowes you to issue cards up to a value of $2,500 USD. If you want an unlimited amount, you’ll have to upgrade to the KYC Level 2, though that’s free of charge. The interface was slick and easy to navigate: in other words, nothing like your typical experience with a bank.
While I was there, I thought I glimpsed a bit of the financial future, one where transactions were as seemless and as costless as possible, and one where banks cared about end users in every way. I don’t know if Shake will be a large part of that vision in the future, but I do know they are moving the needle on it, and that given the right moves, the company could help transform financial transactions.
For now though, they’re in Alpha, and Shake is merely your key to unlocking an ultramodern financial system, on-demand–which for most people, may be more than they’ll ever need.