Binance to discontinue Visa debit card services in Europe
Prominent global cryptocurrency exchange Binance is to discontinue its Visa debit card services in approximately 40 European countries, including members of the European Economic Area (EEA) like Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Poland. The cessation is scheduled for implementation by 20 December and amounts to a significant change in the financial landscape for existing Binance Visa debit card holders in the EEA.
The Binance Visa debit card served as a bridge between the crypto cosmos and the traditional financial system, enabling users to convert and spend cryptocurrencies at more than 60 million online and offline merchants worldwide. But increased scrutiny from regulators, and a lawsuit brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has eroded this bridge. In June, the SEC accused Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao of breaking securities rules, leading to the termination of partnerships with Mastercard and Visa.
Isolation from traditional finance is becoming a familiar story for Binance. The exchange has suffered restrictions at the hands of the US banking system and lost the ability to accept certain types of bank transfers in Australia. It has also had to shutter its Binance Connect service, which facilitated businesses accepting crypto payments via Visa and Mastercard.
Halting its Visa debit card services in Europe is a blow to Binance’s mission to make cryptocurrencies a viable payment method. Rivals like Crypto.com continue to offer debit cards through other providers. Despite the setback, Binance has assured users that their accounts will remain operational, suggesting the company’s contactless and secure cryptocurrency payment technology Binance Pay as an alternative.
Binance’s latest setback underscores the challenges cryptocurrency exchanges face amidst increasing regulatory scrutiny. As cryptocurrencies attract more mainstream attention, regulators are grappling with how to control this burgeoning asset class. By severing ties with traditional financial institutions, Binance may be seeking to position itself as a more independent entity in the crypto space.
As regulators attempt to get to grips with cryptocurrencies, exchanges like Binance will need to navigate the resulting challenges and find innovative ways of making cryptocurrencies more usable and accessible for everyday transactions.