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Compliance at CardCoins

CardCoins is a US based non-bank financial institution (NBFI), which means compliance is always top of mind. But it can sometimes feel like a moving target! At any moment regulators can and do modify the requirements for crypto-focused NBFIs at the state or federal levels. This means CardCoins must regularly review and update its compliance program to keep up.

Accordingly, we are announcing changes to the list of states where we currently operate. Effective immediately CardCoins’ service will be accessible from the following states:

California, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming

As a reminder, our geo-restrictions depend on your location when you access our website, not the retailer where your gift card was purchased. For example, if a...

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Lightning at CardCoins: Lessons Learned & Announcing Support for Lightning Address


It was only six months ago that we announced support for the Lightning Network. It has been an exciting journey. Not without its hiccups, we’ve learned quite a bit–not only about the Lightning Network, but we’ve also gained new insights into our internal systems, what assumptions they were built on and how those assumptions would ultimately inform our approach to integrating the Lightning Network into our codebase.

When we first began building the CardCoins platform, the Lightning Network was still just a whitepaper. While we look back on that exploratory phase of early research fondly, it wasn’t actively considered in our architectural design processes. Consequently, we constructed our platform with the assumption that any additional coins/protocols we might add would generally work in the same way that on-chain Bitcoin operates: the payee provides a public key/address to the payer...

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The CardCoins Status Page


100% uptime is a fundamental ideal for every website. Unfortunately it is not always achievable, even for CardCoins. Only three weeks ago AWS experienced a massive outage at its US-EAST-1 datacenter which caused widespread disruptions for some of the most popular sites on the internet. CardCoins was also affected.

This sort of downtime is classified as an “upstream failure” because CardCoins is a consumer of Amazon Web Services. Issues with infrastructure providers like AWS encompass one type of upstream failure, but it’s not the only one. Another source of upstream failures we encounter here at CardCoins are the gift card program managers themselves. For example, CardCoins recently observed degraded authorization performance from cards administered by Incomm, the firm behind popular gift cards sold under the AmEx and “Vanilla” family of brands.

To better alert customers to CardCoins...

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Announcing: The CardCoins Public API


For those of you who joined us at TABConf, you already had a sneak peek at this announcement. If you weren’t there, we have some exciting news. Today we have published our full public API documentation! This makes the CardCoins on-ramp available to all Bitcoin enabled applications.

Say for example you operate a wallet or an exchange and you wish to allow underbanked and cash preferred users to top up their wallets/accounts. By integrating with the CardCoins API, these users can easily take their cash and convert it to Bitcoin in minutes from right inside your application. You don’t need to redirect them to another service or even expose to them an iframe if you don’t want to. The full order process can now be integrated natively in your application. And better yet, due to CardCoins’ innovative accountless model, your users need only a phone number to get started!

The CardCoins order...

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RBF Batching at CardCoins: Diving into the Mempool’s Dark Reorg Forest

Because CardCoins interacts heavily with the mempool, we consider both the cost and expected confirmation time of a transaction before it is broadcast. Like other service providers in the Bitcoin ecosystem, we want to minimize our costs while ensuring transactions confirm as quickly as possible.

Service providers have available to them a few different approaches to this problem, the selection of which depends on the nature of the service and the volume of transactions they broadcast to the network. Large exchanges, for example, rely heavily on traditional transaction batching, whereby customer withdrawals are aggregated into a single transaction and broadcast at some interval (e.g. once per hour). Some providers may not have the luxury of waiting for such an interval as their customers expect an immediate payout visible in the mempool. In this case, two strategies can be combined...

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Stimulus Checks 2021: How to Buy Bitcoin With Your EIP Prepaid Debit Card


On Thursday March 11th, President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This bill will provide all taxpayers (and their dependents) with $1,400. For many, these funds will be received by way of a direct deposit into their bank account. However, like the two previous stimulus bills, millions of Americans who are not eligible for direct deposit will receive an Economic Impact Payment Prepaid Card (EIP Card) in the mail.

For those who have received it, many will be wondering: how do I buy Bitcoin with the funds on this card? Because the EIP card is a prepaid card, it will not be accepted by traditional services that allow purchase of Bitcoin by credit and debit card. And that’s where CardCoins comes in!

We’d be more than happy to help you convert your EIP card into Bitcoin! The process is effectively identical to an order with a traditional gift card on our...

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A year in review: Hennadii Stepanov’s contributions to Bitcoin Core


2020 was an exciting year for Bitcoin. We saw large price movements, increased adoption, and despite memes to the contrary, major advancements in the development of the Bitcoin protocol and software projects in the surrounding ecosystem. At higher layers, improvements were made upon the lightning network, statechains, sidechains, discrete log contracts, RGB and more.1,2,3,4,5 There was notable progress in the development of Stratum v2, a protocol to enhance mining decentralization.6 Software which improves the security of key management has advanced at blistering speeds.7 Even low-level cryptographic libraries continued their march forward.8 Underpinning it all of course is Bitcoin Core, which saw changes to nearly all major components of the codebase.

Keeping up with just some of these projects can be a full time job, let alone directly participating in their development processes...

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How to buy Bitcoin with CardCoins

Buying Bitcoin doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, we make it easy.

Follow these simple steps to get started:

Find a location near you and purchase a Visa, Mastercard or American express branded gift card, then follow these simple steps:

  1. Start your order and confirm your phone number
  2. Submit your card details and Bitcoin address
  3. Upload two images of your card, its packaging and receipt.

In the first image you will be asked to arrange the front of the receipt, the back of the card’s packaging and the back of the gift card as follows:


In the second and final image you’ll flip over the receipt, gift card and packaging and write Buying Bitcoin from CardCoins on the back of the receipt.


Once complete, hit the continue button. If the images look like those above, within moments we will approve the order and disburse Bitcoin to your wallet!

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Gift Cards and Bitcoin


In many ways gift cards are much like Bitcoin–they are “bearer assets” and offer a mechanism for financial inclusion to those who are unbanked.1 These similarities create an amazing synergy together!

The FDIC conducted a household survey in 2017 and found that approximately 8.4 million households in the United States were unbanked,2 a number that is likely to have increased during the novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020.3 Open loop prepaid cards are particularly important for e-commerce as most online retailers expect customers to use credit or debit cards. Instead of waiting to get approved for a credit card or bank account, unbanked households can grab a prepaid card off the rack and use it with minimal friction. Here we begin to see the similarities with Bitcoin, as the protocol was designed in part for this exact purpose– to create a permissionless online payments mechanism.


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What Gift Cards Does CardCoins Accept?

The most common question we receive is: which gift cards does CardCoins accept? When you walk up to a gift card rack there are dozens of options, so it’s no surprise that you might be confused!

The short answer is, CardCoins accepts open loop non-reloadable gift cards. But if you’d like to learn more about what that means, let’s take a look at the different types of gift cards on the rack today.


There are two primary types of gift cards: “closed loop” and “open loop.” Closed loop cards, also known as “single purpose” or “store cards,” can be redeemed only with specific merchants or groups of affiliated retailers. They bear the issuer’s branding and can be purchased directly or from participating retailers with shared distribution agreements.

“Open loop” cards are general-purpose prepaid cards that are “network branded,” meaning they carry their “card organization’s” logo such as...

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