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万能卡Shift:带你穿越支付界的虚拟与现实

早上起来喝咖啡,你想用什么付钱呢?信用卡还是比特币?

旧金山的Shift Payments正在研发一个项目,如果一切进展顺利,那么将来人们就可以用一张卡完成现有市场货币和比特币支付的转换。

该公司目前将100张模型卡分发到朋友和亲属中进行内部测试。用户可利用Coinbase(某比特币交换中心)帐户或Ripple(某支持普通支付和电子支付的数字支付交换协议)进行支付。

虽然这项服务目前无法直接连接银行或信用账户(仅支持比特币账户),但创始人Meg Nakamura表示Shift Payments正在努力争取中。

她说:"我们正在与美国各银行交涉,看看能否共赢合作。"他们对此的确十分感兴趣,这也许只是个时间问题,所以我们已经开始同现有合作伙伴展开联合研发。"

用户需要下载一个移动应用程序,以实现货币之间的切换。Shift Payments公司会从每笔交易中收取一小笔佣金。

Nakamura说:"是Coin卡启发我们做出了现在的这个产品 (电子信用卡Coin可将多种信用卡进行整合,并汇聚到一个蓝牙设备中)。我们非常喜欢这个产品,而且希望实现这个想法。但我们现在还没有完成硬件制造, 只做了一个移动应用程序,不过我们相信这个软件解决方案总会有机会成为硬件产品。"

Nakamura希望银行和消费者能对Shift Payments感兴趣。

"银行应该意识到它的价值,因为这将给银行带来更多的交易量。"

不过,这其中还是存在着一些障碍。Wedbush证券分析师Gil Luria认为,各种高配置文件数据漏洞可能会潜在地降低小规模及未经测试公司的积极性。

"该类型服务最大的瓶颈在于,你必须能放心的把钱交给服务提供商,而Shift Payments这样的小公司没有经过多少实践检验,很难获得信任。"Luria说。

更麻烦的是,一般的持卡人根本就不用比特币,能理解Shift Payments产品的人更是少之又少。

但如今比特币正日益普及。Luria认为这个加密数字货币领域都在迅速成长。

"现在比特币钱包用户超过五百万,而一年之前这个数字才只有一百万。正因为比特币钱包不是一款免费短信应用程序,这样的变化才显得更加引人关注。而且这全部五百万用户都已经将实际资金投入到了这些帐户。"

Luria说,虽然比特币支付名头不小,但是其市场普及速度却远比当初的网上银行和在线券商要快得多。Shift Payments将有效帮助早期用户实现数字货币和传统支付模式之间的转换。

不过,为了让用户使用电子货币而又额外制造出实体产品的方式似乎总有些令人匪夷所思。

ZipZap也将于近期推出自己的比特币产品,其联合创始人Sean Safahi认为:"没有什么比刷卡更熟悉的事了。而且随着比特币不断获得认可,市场上类似于Shift Payments的产品也会越来越多。"

Shift Payments希望也能将会员积分算作一种货币加在卡上,让客户使用会员积分在经常光顾的商店里进行消费支付。

Nakamura说:"在美国,三分之一的会员积分都没有得到使用,想想看,如果把这些积分用来消费呢?比特币只是储存此类价值的方式之一。虽然我们现在关心的是比特币,不过我们也希望能能将更多的日常价值考虑其中,充分利用。"

Would you like to pay for your morning coffee with your credit card or your bitcoin wallet?

If San Francisco-based start-up Shift Payments has its way, you'll soon be able to switch from real money to digital currency when paying with a single card.

The company is beta testing 100 cards with friends and family members. It allows users to make purchases with accounts from Coinbase-a bitcoin exchange-and Ripple-a digital payment exchange protocol that can support real and digital currency.

While the card does not currently access bank or credit accounts (just bitcoin accounts for now), co-founder Meg Nakamura says Shift Payments is trying to make that happen soon.

"We are having conversations with U.S. banks to see if we can get them comfortable," she said. "They are very, very interested. It's just a timing issue. So we are building out the product with the partners we have right now."

Users download a mobile app with the card, which they use to switch between currencies and accounts. The company takes a small percentage of each transaction.

"We modeled this after Coin," said Nakamura, referring to the digital payment card that consolidates multiple credit cards into one Bluetooth device. "We really like this gadget and hope to be able to work with it, but we don't have that hardware right now so we're doing it with a mobile app. It's the software solution to what could become hardware."

Nakamura hopes the company will become valuable to banks in addition to spenders.

"Unlocking this value is interesting for the banks because it means more transactions for them," Nakamura said.

There are obstacles, though. Various high-profile data breaches could temper potential enthusiasm for small, untested payment companies, said Gil Luria, analyst with Wedbush Securities.

"The main risk associated with this type of service is that you have to trust your money with the service provider, in this case Shift, which is often a small and unproven company," Luria said.

Add to that challenge that the average card carrier doesn't yet use bitcoin, much less understand it.

That said, bitcoin is gaining in popularity. "The adoption of cryptocurrency is happening at a very rapid rate," Luria said.

"There are more than 5 million bitcoin wallet users, up from less than 1 million a year ago. This is especially impressive since this is not a free messaging app. All 5 million of these people have moved actual money into these accounts."

Luria said this is a faster rate of adoption than online banking or online brokerage ever experienced despite the big names behind them. Shift Payments, he says, is bridging the gap between the digital currency world and traditional payment infrastructure for early adopters.

Still, it seems counterintuitive to want a physical product to represent your digital currency.

"Nothing is as familiar as swiping a card," said Sean Safahi, co-founder of ZipZap and founder of a soon-to-be announced bitcoin product. "You'll see more of these types of relationships as the currency gains recognition."

Shift Payments also aims to add loyalty points as a currency on the card, allowing customers to pay with points they've racked up with favorite retailers.

"Of all the loyalty points in the U.S., one-third of them go unused," Nakamura said. "So what if you could spend all of those points at an existing point of sale? Bitcoin is just one of those stores of value. Although we are leading with bitcoin right now, we are thinking a lot more generally about all of this value you have every day."


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