Kenya is among the top three countries on the African continent with the most crypto activity. The others are Nigeria and South Africa.
Nevertheless, hardly any Kenyan store accepts crypto payments.
That is what a crypto debit card fixes for you.
What exactly is a crypto-funded debit card, though?
A crypto debit card is a Visa or Mastercard debit card that you can top up using your Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any other cryptocurrency. The card issuing company or entity acts as an exchange and converts your crypto into the currency that the merchants you shop from accept.
With a crypto debit card, the places in the Kenyan cities and towns to spend your crypto become almost limitless. Every shop and store that takes Visa, Mastercard, or UnionPay accepts your crypto without even knowing it.
With pressure from the Central bank of Kenya on commercial banks and mobile money services not to facilitate crypto-related transactions, a crypto debit card has become a welcome solution to many Kenyans who trade and use cryptocurrencies.
With that being said, what options do crypto holders in Kenya have?
Globally, the number of crypto debit cards is growing. However, in Kenya, there are three major crypto debit cards that you can apply for and have shipped to you. All of them are based outside the country.
Given that the cards are either Visa, Mastercard and Unionpay, you don’t have to worry about where the company issuing the card is headquartered. As long as they are willing to ship it to you, you can use it as you do locally issued cards.
This card issuer is very different from the others in the market. Most of the others are mostly companies with the exchange as their primary business.
ClubSwan is a members club that offers users a luxury experience through personalized physical debit cards and exclusive deals with selected partners and merchants.
That means before you get the debit card, you need to register to be a member. Kenya is one of the countries on the African continent whose citizens qualify to get the ClubSwan membership.
After your application is accepted, you get an account with them, which you can access on an online portal. On the account, you can access the digital version of your debit card, two bank accounts (American and European, and a crypto wallet application that can hold Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and tens of other coins.
It takes about two weeks for the physical debit card to be shipped to you.
Besides the potential to spend your crypto in millions of online and brick-and-mortar stores, you get other benefits such as discounts and exclusive deals with partner merchants.
The system allows you to buy, sell, send and receive crypto and convert crypto into fiat currency or use fiat currency to buy crypto. You can also move funds between your bank account and crypto wallet balances.
The debit card also allows you to accept international payments even when they are not in cryptocurrency. Indeed, like any other bank account, the ClubSwan members can also send and receive wire transfers.
Paycent is a service resulting from a partnership between a Singaporean payment startup Techcent and BlockCypher, the blockchain architecture solutions company. The service was launched in 2016 mainly as a digital wallet that allows users to receive and spend digital currencies.
To use Paycent, one needs to install their mobile application on Google Play Store or Apple store. You can manage your funds through the app, including accepting payments, converting from crypto to fiat, and topping your debit card.
You also apply and order your debit card in the app.
One unique security feature of Paycent is that you can create unique virtual cards to be used with specific merchants, especially those you have recurring transactions with. This protects your funds if the card number is exposed online and somebody attempts to use it elsewhere.
Besides fiat and crypto, Paycent also supports the holding of metal assets, which you can also convert and use the proceeds to fund your card.
The Paycent app supports Bitcoin Ethereum, Litecoin, and close to ten other coins.
The debit card you get from Paycent is either Mastercard or Unionpay. The latter is not universally accepted worldwide. That means you can use the service to shop and withdraw cash in over 200 countries, including Kenya.
Because Paycent is geared mostly towards the Asian market, it has payments like Alipay and WeChat included as part of its service.
Tran Hung, a fintech developer, founded the company in 2016. It held a successful initial coin offering (ICO) in 2017 and raised over $17 million. Holders of the coin sold during the ICO can use it to buy telephone airtime, bus tickets, vouchers, and settle different kinds of bills.
The Uquid debit card is one more service that the company provides. A holder of the card can convert over 100 different cryptocurrencies to top it up.
The Uquid company is headquartered in the United Kingdom. However, it accepts users from around the world and ships their debit cards to over 150 countries, including Kenya.
One unique feature of the Uquid debit card is that you can easily create virtual cards to use on specific transactions, reducing the chances of exposing your physical card.
The options you have as a Kenyan user when it comes to crypto debit cards are still limited. However, over time more cards are likely to join the market. Meanwhile, you have very good offers from the above three debit card brands.