In a surprise move, e-wallet provider and payment processor Neteller quietly started to accept bitcoin deposits at zero fees. Neteller customers will now be able to top up their accounts by exchanging Bitcoin into one of the currencies offered by Neteller.
Neteller, owned and operated by publicly traded British global payments company Optimal Payments PLC, is used by millions of consumers in more than 200 countries and especially popular in the foreign exhange and online gambling sectors.
This announcement follows the entering into of an agreement between Optimal Payments and Bitcoin payment processor BitPay.
“We recognize the important role that cryptocurrencies play in the future of payments,” said Optimal Payments President and CEO Joel Leonoff, “and we look forward to working with BitPay as the acceptance rate grows.”
“Neteller has recognized the growing strategic importance of bitcoin,” notes the BitPay website, “and we will be working with them to help further drive mainstream adoption of bitcoin.” Sonny Singh, BitPay’s chief operating officer, added that the relationship with Optimal Payments will help BitPay to drive merchant acceptance on a global scale.
A few days ago, Optimal Payments announced the forthcoming acquisition of the biggest Neteller competitor Skrill (formerly Moneybookers.) It seems therefore likely that bitcoin deposit options may be added to Skrill as well in the coming months.
Neteller, which is listed as an “Authorised Electronic Money Institution” with the U.K. government’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is headquartered in the Isle of Man, a leading Bitcoin hub poised to attract digital fintech businesses, entrepreneurs and developers. The recent announcement of new Bitcoin-friendly regulations in the Isle of Man may have contributed to Neteller reversing its previous choice to block digital currency activities.
Besides paying the merchants that accept Neteller payments directly from their accounts, Neteller users have a prepaid “Net+” MasterCard that can be recharged from the wallet and used to pay all merchants that accept MasterCard, and withdraw cash from ATMs.
Two features of Neteller bitcoin deposits seem especially important.
First, Neteller is accepted by nearly all online gambling operators. Therefore, nearly all online gambling operators are able to accept bitcoin payments via Neteller. Unfortunately for gamblers based in America, current U.S. regulations against online gambling prevent Neteller from offering the service to customers based in the United States.
“All serviced countries except the United States can deposit with Bitcoin,” notes the Neteller website.
Second, all Neteller users now can link a prepaid Net+ MasterCard to their Neteller accounts, with the option to deposit bitcoin to recharge the card. In other words, Bitcoin users are suddenly able to withdraw their funds from all ATMs that accept MasterCard (read: nearly all ATMs) and pay all merchants that accept MasterCard (read: nearly all merchants), online or at points of sale. Optimal Payments’ upcoming acquisition Skrill also is a provider of prepaid debit cards.
Prepaid debit cards that can be recharged with bitcoin deposits, and therefore permit bitcoin payments anywhere, are becoming commonplace. In Australia, the CoinJar Swipe card permits spending bitcoin at most merchants and withdrawing bitcoin as cash at most ATMs. In Germany, holders of a Fidor Bank “Smart Giro Account” can sell bitcoin to other account holders, have the money instantly credited to their account, and spend or withdraw their money with their Fidor credit card, which in practice is equivalent to a card that can be recharged with bitcoin.
With the acquisition of Skrill, Neteller will be the biggest competitor of leading payment processor PayPal, which has already begun experimenting with Bitcoin.
Neteller, owned and operated by publicly traded British global payments company Optimal Payments PLC , is used by millions of consumers in more than 200 countries and especially popular in the foreign exhange and […]