French company to issue debit cards linked to bitcoin

Paymium CEO Pierre Noizat says his company is focusing on the transactional benefits of the bitcoin system

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

Early next year, Noizat said Paymium is planning to offer debit cards, which would make it easier for people to withdraw funds. Bitcoins could be sold through the Bitcoin-Central exchange, with funds deposited in the Aqoba payment account and withdrawn through a debit card. Noizat said Paymium is still investigating whether non-French citizens can legally open accounts.

Paymium's announcement marks an incremental progression in making bitcoin easier to use. Noizat said his company is focused on bitcoin from a transactional standpoint since it is faster and cheaper than the banks for overseas wire transfers.

Banks often charge flat fees for overseas wire transfers, regardless of the value. For example, a bank may charge ¬15 (US$19) for the transfer fee and ¬15 to send funds in a different currency. Recipients may also be charged to receive the money. To send just ¬100 out of a country in a different currency, it could cost the sender around ¬30.

Bitcoin offers a cheaper alternative. Bitcoin-Central, for example, charges a .498 percent transactional fee to buy bitcoins. The bitcoin network charges a fraction of a cent to the sender for processing the transaction, but receiving bitcoin is free.

The recipient can then use a local exchange to covert their bitcoins to cash. In-country wire transfers from the exchange to the recipient's account are usually low cost or free. In this example, the sender would pay around ¬0.50 rather than ¬30 to send ¬100.

"The smaller the amount, the more bitcoin makes sense," Noizat said.

Since bitcoin launched in 2009, people have become very passionate and political when talking about it, Noizat said. But the technical innovations of bitcoin have the potential to introduce competition to traditional banking systems, which have lacked innovation, he alleged.

Bitcoin is "not the next currency. It first has to prove itself as a high-performance, reliable transaction network first," Noizat said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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