BitPay's U.S. cardholders can now add prepaid Mastercard to their Apple Pay wallets, according to a BitPay announcement. Google and Samsung will be added later this quarter.
Apple (AAPL), who needs no introduction, is the world’s largest publicly traded company, with a market capitalization of $2.3 trillion. This partnership will allow Apple to gauge the demand for crypto payments among customers, without owning bitcoin themselves.
In the arrangement, BitPay will convert cryptocurrency into fiat currency for a small fee, and the merchant will spend their prepaid card with a standard USD balance. This gives customers the ability to spend bitcoin without using a bank transfer. BitPay cardholders can make purchases in stores, apps and online. In addition, customers waiting on delivery of their plastic card can add their virtual card to Apple Wallet via the BitPay Wallet app and can start spending immediately.
Stephen Pair, the CEO of BitPay, noted that Google and Samsung Pay would add support for BitPay Card later this quarter, “We have thousands of BitPay Wallet app customers using the BitPay Card who are always looking for new places and ways to spend their crypto,” he said, "Adding Apple Pay and soon Google and Samsung Pay makes it easy and convenient to use the BitPay Card in more places from day-to-day items to luxury purchases."
Visa has been the most aggressive in the adoption of cryptocurrencies, as Mastercard seems a little more timid. In a recent blog post, Mastercard offered vague crypto plans, failing to even commit to supporting Bitcoin, but said they intend to support "select cryptocurrencies" in the future.
Last year, Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga said bitcoin is useless to the unbanked due to its volatility, despite the unbanked trading over $100 million per week on P2P exchanges.
One RBC analyst, Mitch Steves, pointed out that the payments firm Square (SQ) generates about $1.6 billion per quarter in bitcoin-related revenue on an active user based of around 30 million. Apple's user base is 1.5 billion, and even if we assume only 200 million users would transact (20% adoption), this is 7x larger than Square, therefore, the potential revenue opportunity would be in excess of $40 billion a year. Apple probably isn't in a hurry.
BitPay was founded in 2011 and are based in San Francisco with about 80 total employees.