FitPay, the startup technology platform that adds contactless payment capabilities to wearable and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, is looking to serve consumers who own bitcoin with a new payment device. The product, which is dubbed Flip, will come with a preloaded amount of U.S. dollars that are exchanged from the user's existing cryptocurrency account. Consumers can then, in turn, use those dollars at millions of retail locations. The idea is to give bitcoin users “an easy, transparent way to connect and use the value of bitcoin in their everyday purchases,” Michael Orlando, COO of NXT-ID, Inc. and president of FitPay, told PYMNTS.com in an interview.
FitPay, which is a unit of NXT-ID, has conducted pre-sales and plans to release the product in a couple of weeks. Along with the upcoming Flip launch, FitPay has partnered with musical artist Lil' Flip for a contactless payment device that will feature artwork designed by the rapper and carry his branding. FitPay chose that channel, as it can be challenging to find bitcoin users: Mainstream social media companies and ad venues have cut off crypto advertising for various reasons, for example.
Lil’ Flip, however, has a large following through social media and other media channels, and his channel presented an opportunity for FitPay to discover a new community that is connected to cryptocurrencies and bitcoin. In addition, Lil’ Flip has also become a voice and advocate for crypto services: “[Lil’ Flip is] really excited about cryptocurrency,” Orlando said. “His fans and his followers are as excited about it as he.”
The development comes as Orlando said that contactless payments are becoming more and more common. Almost any type of retailer today has contactless capabilities, Orlando said, from the gas pump to the grocery store or even the barber. “The ubiquity of contactless payments is really starting to grow here in the U.S.,” Orlando said. And, internationally, where cryptocurrencies also have heavy penetration, contactless payments and contactless acceptance exceed 90 percent in some countries, such as Australia.
Beyond bitcoin, FitPay plans to look into more cryptocurrencies in the future. Its strategy is to focus on the cryptocurrencies that have wider adoption rather than trying to plug into every digital currency on the market. The company landed on bitcoin, however, because the cryptocurrency is the most known and most widely held. In addition, FitPay needed to ensure that it was following anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations with its banking partners, and the bitcoin community and platform have the most evolved system around those categories. But, as other cryptocurrencies catch up, FitPay plans to explore other cryptocurrency opportunities as well.