Over the last 2 weeks we’ve had the busiest time Bitwala has ever seen. Both our card and bank transfer services were suspended. We’ve been working around the clock to return customers’ money to them in the quickest and simplest way possible.
We wanted to take this opportunity to explain how this impacts Bitwala and its plans.
What actually happened
The prepaid card program was shut down
In offering the Bitwala cards, we had come to rely on WaveCrest, a card issuer with a Visa license. Last week, WaveCrest was forced to disable all of its cards overnight due to its noncompliance with Visa’s rules. This meant that all customers with a Visa card issued by WaveCrest, which includes many other companies, also had their cards disabled.
WaveCrest will be handling your refunds and we are working closely with them to make sure your funds are 100% safe and returned to you quickly.
Our bank ended its relationship with us
On December 29th our bank notified us that our account was being looked into and in the interim, all transfers will be disabled. We disabled bank transfers from our dashboard and emailed users with pending transactions to expect delays.
After doing everything possible to restore our account, the bank informed us yesterday that due to a change in their policies, they have decided to terminate our relationship and that the closure would be permanent.
Returning your funds is our priority
We want to assure you that your funds are safe and that our main priority right now is returning them to you in a timely manner. We’ve ended our bank relationship on a good note. Users with pending bank transfers will receive a refund in 14 days that is equal to the EURO or GBP amount of their bitcoin at the then-current bitcoin exchange rate.
Card refunds, on the other hand, will take 30 days. Since starting the card balance refund process, many of our users have complained that it is lengthy and complicated. Our engineering team is working on solutions to ease the situation and help to make the processes smoother and faster.
We again sincerely apologize for any and all inconvenience this has caused our users. Please be assured that Bitwala feels the same pain and that we are committed and already hard at work in establishing an all new Bitwala card program.
Our mission stays the same
Bitwala is building a Crypto Bank
Countless crypto companies have had to shut down because of lack of access to financial services.This fear of banks pulling the plugs on anything crypto-related is very real and is a fear that our industry lives in. This puts further emphasis on how the crypto economy needs a strong, independent crypto-first banking foundation.
Bitwala will relaunch as a crypto bank. After working for over a year on our deal, we’ve finally reached an understanding with a German white-label banking partner. Our bill payment and card services will return for businesses and individuals and will both be migrated to the new platform and be able to open full bank accounts with us.
All accounts will come with debit cards, so there is no need to top-up your cards anymore. Up until now, we could only offer Crypto to Fiat. With the relaunch, we will be able to also offer Fiat to Crypto which we think is a huge deal. This means that we will offer users a seamless experience, allowing a smooth transition between the crypto and fiat worlds.
As you can imagine, this is not the easiest thing to build and it’s difficult to find the partners who are willing and capable of building something like that. But we found them.
Existing users will still be able to log in to their accounts to view their card and account activity as well as make standard bitcoin transactions (wallet-to-wallet). Our customer support team will also be available to assist our users with any questions and will be instrumental in account migrations in the future.
We apologise to the customers who rely on us as part of their financial life. We are working very hard to relaunch in mid-2018. We will keep you updated every step along the way.
The ICO will follow
Our legal team made great progress towards launching the first of its kind equity token. While we intended to launch the sale in Q1, it will now be pushed later in the year.
The goal of our token offering has always been to give our community the chance to own part of the company that they helped to build. Therefore, we want to earn back your trust in Bitwala and in our new products by launching a functioning crypto bank before asking you to contribute to its further acceleration and development.
The community stays alive
Bitwala has been so successful due to our users’ support and encouragement. It is what kept us going through tough times. We see this situation as an opportunity to build a better product and implement all of the features that you’ve requested over the last months.
Our founding vision has always been to bridge the gap between traditional and crypto economies. While cryptocurrencies always had their sharp ups and downs, traditional banking was always the weak(ening) link.
We’ve learned a lot about the areas of friction between the crypto industry and the banking industry since our launch in 2014. And now, in the lead up to the product launch, we will also master traditional banking. Combining the best of both worlds in the process. We will keep you updated on our progress through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube or in person if you pop over to our usual hangout spot, Room 77.
Jörg, Jan & Ben
The Bitwala Co-Founders