- New startup London Block Exchange is launching a prepaid card linked to an app that will let people spend and hold cryptocurrencies.
- The startup has raised £2 million from private investors and is headed by an 18-year Credit Suisse veteran.
A London-startup headed by a Credit Suisse veteran is launching a new debit card that it claims will allow people to spend cryptocurrencies across the UK.
The London Block Exchange (LBX) launched on Tuesday. It plans to launch a sterling-to-cryptocurrency exchange and a prepaid Visa debit card, dubbed “Dragoncard,” that will allow people to convert bitcoin, ethereum, ripple, litecoin and monero to sterling and spend it across the UK. The startup plans to add more cryptocurrencies in future.
The Visa card, which will be issued by Gibraltar-based pre-paid card provider Wavecrest, will be linked to an app that allows users to buy and hold cryptocurrencies through the LBX exchange. Customers will also be able to withdraw money using the card. Cryptocurrencies will be converted to sterling at the time of withdrawal.
LBX CEO and founder Ben Dives said in a statement: “Despite being the financial capital of the world, London is a difficult place for investors to enter and trade in the cryptocurrency market.
“We’ll bring it into the mainstream by removing the barriers to access, and by helping people understand and have confidence in what we believe is the future of money.”
LBX has so far raised £2 million from a consortium of private investors who the company declined to name. Prior to setting up LBX earlier this year, Dives founded brainstorming tool Ideaflip.
Ex-Credit Suisse and UBS banker Adam Bryant serves as LBX’s executive chairman. Bryant spent 18 years at Credit Suisse and almost two years at UBS before joining LBX, running the macro hedge fund teams at both banks.
Bryant said in a statement: “We’re offering a grown up and robust experience for those who wish to safely and easily understand and invest in digital currencies. We’re confident we’ll transform this market in the UK and will become the leading cryptocurrency and blockchain consultancy for institutional investors and consumers alike.”
Customers will be charged a 0.5% for buying and selling cryptocurrencies on its platform and the Dragoncard has an up-front fee of £20. LBX says card provider Wavecrest will also charge a small fee for ATM withdrawals.
LBX’s launch coincides with an explosion of interest in cryptocurrency in 2017. Bitcoin has rocketed over 500% so far this year and the total cryptocurrency market has ballooned to close to $200 billion thanks to the popularity of “initial coin offerings,” where startups issue digital coins as a way of raising money.
While LBX is one of the first companies to offer a cryptocurrency card in the UK, it is likely to soon face competition. Revolut, the well-funded foreign exchange startup, is developing cryptocurrency trading capacities within its app and may well let consumers spend the currencies on its prepaid card.