cryptocurrency insurance - do you need it?

At least four major cryptocurrency exchanges were hacked in 2018:

Coincheck – $500 million stolen.

BitGrail – $195 million stolen.

Coinrail – $40 million stolen.

Bithumb – $30 million stolen.

Did any of them have insurance? Not really.

The $500 million Coincheck hack was one of the biggest in history, but the company ended up reimbursing clients with its own funds.

Bithumb was insured, but not enough to cover the loss.

In other words, cryptocurrency insurance is patchy.

Assume Your Cryptocurrency Is Not Insured

If you are currently holding bitcoin online in a custodian service or exchange, your digital assets are more than likely not insured. 

We automatically assume our cryptocurrencies are covered, but the harsh reality is they are not in most cases.

coinbase logo

 

Even Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the US, only insures 2% of customers’ crypto funds – those held online, the most vulnerable to hacking. The remaining 98% is stored offline in significantly safer cold storage, but uninsured.

Read more: 8 Cryptocurrency Best Practices (Keep Your Crypto Safe!)

That’s Why Gemini’s New Insurance Is Groundbreaking

The Winklevoss twins recently announced that cryptocurrencies on their Gemini exchange and custody services are fully insured.

Gemini logo bitcoin custody insurance

It’s a huge step for the cryptocurrency industry as it moves towards mainstream integration.

But what other bitcoin insurance options are out there? Who are the biggest players, and do you need a personal cryptocurrency insurance policy?

Do You Need Personal Cryptocurrency Insurance?

The harsh truth here is that buying bitcoin insurance for yourself is going to be wildly expensive and difficult to secure.

Insurance giant Allianz reportedly offers individual insurance to cryptocurrency investors. But there is no mention of such a service on its website. You’ll have to contact an Allianz broker directly to broker a crypto policy.

And that could be very expensive. One expert claims it would cost $200,000 a year in premiums to insure $10 million in crypto assets. (Roughly twice the cost you’d pay to insure other financial products). 

And that’s the rate for crypto companies, not individuals.

Unless you’re a crypto millionaire, you’re better off searching for crypto custody services that are already insured, like Gemini. 

Or better yet, keep your crypto off exchanges and custody services altogether. Use your own cold storage and secure backups.

But let’s zoom out a little. Why are so many crypto companies not insured?

Too Much Risk, Too Little Revenue

Because of the fluctuating nature of crypto markets, big insurance companies have sat on the fence in regards to entering the cryptocurrency insurance affray.

There are two key issues here: risk and revenue.

Until recently, the crypto industry mainly consisted of volatile exchanges and startup companies. Most are high-risk and didn’t provide large enough revenues to encourage the major insurance players to get involved.

Put yourself in the mindset of a big insurance company. Given the number of hacked exchanges and failing ICOs, does it make any sense to offer coverage? Of course not.

And if they did offer coverage, the premiums would be so high (to compensate for the risk) that startups wouldn’t be able to afford them.

Times and Needs Are Changing

More and more crypto companies are breaking out, bigger players are entering the arena, and revenues are increasing.

As the industry evolves, there is a large gap in the market for insurance and security.

Ironically, the instability of crypto markets is what has kept major insurance companies away from the industry. However, it’s also the defining factor why it is important that crypto startup companies and individual users need insurance in the first place.

So we are currently in a state of limbo in regards to cryptocurrency insurance. The good news is that chaos is a ladder. With so much interest now in crypto, some insurance companies are starting to take a gamble on the crypto industry.

Biggest Cryptocurrency Insurance Companies

Although cryptocurrency insurance plans are being offered by companies, most are keeping it low and under the radar. But here are a handful of highly-trusted companies now offering cryptocurrency insurance protection.

Gemini Cryptocurrency Insurance with Aon

Gemini recently announced they have partnered with the leading insurers, AON, to provide insurance protection for custodial digital assets.

AON cryptocurrency insurance Gemini

Aon is a professional and global insurance provider that offers a wide range of insurance protection packages. Their latest partnership with Gemini is changing the game with its crypto coverage that complements the existing FDIC deposit insurance laws.

This might well be the main reason why Aon claims it controls 50% of the cryptocurrency insurance marketplace.

Lloyds Bank/Kingdom Trust Cryptocurrency Insurance

One of the most interesting partnerships lately is between the large-scale banking institution Lloyds Bank and the qualified crypto custodian, Kingdom Trust. As a qualified custodian, Kingdom Trust already stores over 30 cryptocurrency token types. Its crypto storage service is now insured courtesy of underwriters in the Lloyds market.

lloyds bank logo cryptocurrency insurer

Although Lloyds seems to be keeping a low-profile on the subject and are treading carefully, their underwriting of Kingdom Trust’s service is not to be taken lightly.

Lloyds also reportedly provides insurance coverage for the 2% of Coinbase’s funds held online.

Chubb Insurance

Chubb is now offering its own Cyber Enterprise Risk Management (Cyber ERM) insurance policy to businesses. It covers a wide variety of cybercrimes including some cryptocurrency issues.

Chubb claims it doesn’t insure exchanges or crypto wallets, but it has paid out claims related to bitcoin mining and ransoms. There is also no mention of individual insurance yet.

Other notable mentions

As explained, insurance companies are still testing the water with crypto assets. Other name players who are now quietly offering cryptocurrency protection are Allianz, XL Group and AIG, although others will no doubt flock to the market over the coming months

What Should You Do Next?

Unless you’re a crypto millionaire, there aren’t many options out there for individual crypto insurance policies yet. However, we are seeing more insurance players offering coverage to crypto companies and exchanges. The door is opening.

Gemini is hopefully the first of many custodians and exchanges to integrate full insurance, and we’ll see more as we move forward. 

As a crypto investor, your best course of action is to check with your current crypto exchange or custodian. What level of insurance do they have, if any?

If you’re still concerned about safety, move your funds to a custodian with better insurance. Or move it into your own private cold storage and keep backups.

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best cryptocurrency debit cards

With a cryptocurrency debit card, you can now walk into a store, cafe or restaurant and pay with bitcoin. It’s yet another step towards wider crypto adoption, but where should you start? Alan Wass looks at the five best crypto cards in 2018.

The rise in cryptocurrency debit cards is a true reflection of how far the crypto industry has traveled in a very short space of time. It seems like only yesterday when we had to jump through hoops just to buy bitcoin. Times have changed!

What’s a Crypto Card?

A cryptocurrency debit card allows you to spend bitcoin (or other digital currencies) as easily as you’d pay with fiat currency.

A bitcoin debit card makes the exchange from crypto to fiat for you. So you can use it at shops, ATMs and online, even if the vendor doesn’t directly accept bitcoin.

Bitcoin debit cards will help attract more mainstream consumers to crypto and bolster confidence in day-to-day blockchain technologies. If we’re to expand crypto adoption, it’s important the industry offers similar features you would find in traditional financial markets.

But before you choose the best cryptocurrency debit cards, you need to figure out which type of card suits your needs and lifestyle in the crypto-sphere.

paying at a store with bitcoin debit card app

Which Type of Cryptocurrency Debit Cards Suits You?

For example, do you want a physical crypto debit card or a virtual card? Or both? You can also opt for a pre-paid or non-pre-paid card.

Physical crypto debit card – A plastic card you keep in your wallet, just like your normal credit card (may come with an up-front fee).

Virtual debit card – Usually cheaper than a physical card and ideal for use online. A virtual card can’t be used to withdraw cash from an ATM, but may utilize an app, so you can still make payments at stores and restaurants.

Pre-paid cards – Allows you to load your cryptocurrency onto it, which will then automatically convert your crypto into fiat currencies and vice versa. Just make sure you fully understand the choices of fiat currencies available on your chosen pre-paid card because they can vary from card to card.

Non-pre-paid debit cards – These are usually linked to your online crypto wallet, which converts your bitcoin into fiat instantaneously when you make a purchase.

Cryptocurrency debit cards don’t come for free as there are usually some startup fees involved when obtaining a physical card. Prices can vary but don’t be surprised if you have to pay $50 (USD) upfront or more in some cases to initially buy the card. There may also be loading fees when you send your crypto to the card. This could be in the form of a percentage or a flat fee, so be sure to check out the type of loading fees for your chosen cryptocurrency debit cards.

Caution: always do your own due diligence when trusting a credit or debit card company. Read reviews, check which wallets are compatible, read the company’s internal policies and check out the team behind the card. The following should not be considered a recommendation, but an introduction to the most popular cards on the market.

Top Five Cryptocurrency Debit Cards

Here is our list of the top cryptocurrency debit cards in 2018 so you can compare the features, costs and loading fees.

Coinbase Shift Card

Physical card cost: $20
Loading fee: zero
Supported countries: Card available in 43 US states, spend anywhere Visa is accepted globally.

a hand holding coinbase shift bitcoin card

As Coinbase has already cemented itself as an industry-leading crypto exchange, it only makes sense that a debit card from the company would be a very trusted and reliable option.

It’s also the only card on this list available to those living in the US, due to financial regulations.

If you’re an existing Coinbase user, it’s easy. You just connect your Coinbase wallet with the Shift card.

The Coinbase ‘Shift Card’ is one of the world’s most backed cryptocurrency debit cards available across 43 states in America. With regulatory approval, this card is extremely trustworthy, allowing you to spend your bitcoin at any establishment that accepts Visa.

Although there are no monthly costs using the Coinbase Shift Card, there is an initial issuance fee of $20. There is also a flat fee of $2.50 when withdrawing at the ATM.

The best part about using this option is that payments made via the card are taken from the crypto wallet that is tethered to the Shift Card, which means you receive no fees when converting from bitcoin to fiat.

SpectroCoin Pre-Paid Card

Physical card cost: $50
Loading fee: 1%
Supported countries: Click to see if virtual and physical cards are available in your country (US not available)

Spectrocoin bitcoin debit card and app

This high quality pre-paid physical credit card is ideal if you are looking to convert your crypto into either USD or euros. If you want the plastic USD card from SpectroCoin, it will cost in the region of $50, although the virtual card for the euro costs only €9.

The card offers affordable loading fees of 1% and further charges on any purchase you make with the card. And although there are some cheaper card options out there, you can use the SpectroCoin card at any ATM around the world, which is a massive positive for the modern crypto user of today.

Wirex Visa Payment Card

Physical card cost: free
Loading fee: none
Supported countries: Not yet available in US. Physical Card available in 31 (mostly European) countries

 

green wirex bitcoin debit card, registered to Satoshi Nakamoto

If you are looking for a company that offers both physical and virtual cryptocurrency debit cards, Wirex is an inspired choice. One plus-factor is that the card is currently available for free delivery for a limited time.

The Wirex Visa Payment Card allows you to spend your crypto just like traditional money. You can instantly convert your crypto such as bitcoin, ripple, ethereum, and litecoin and use it anywhere that Visa is accepted such as in shops, restaurants, online and at ATMs. Wirex also offers a cashback feature called Cryptoback™, which gives you back 0.5% in bitcoin on every purchase you make.

Uquid Crypto Card

Physical card cost: free
Loading fee: none
Supported countries: 130 countries eligible for physical card (excludes US).

uquid bitcoin and altcoin debit card

As most cryptocurrency debit cards only convert bitcoin or just a small handful of other digital currencies, if you are looking for more altcoin conversion options, the Uquid crypto card is a dream come true. Uquid has debit card options for 90 cryptocurrencies, which really is unique and a way to simplify the spending of your altcoin portfolio.

Another massive positive is that Uquid has no loading fees with your crypto. One of the major drawbacks of this card is that you are limited to only four ATM withdrawals and six crypto purchases per day (unless you upgrade by providing more personal information).

CryptoPay Bitcoin Debit Card

Physical card cost: $15 / £15 / €15
Loading fee: 1%
Supported countries: 119 countries eligible for account (excludes US)

cryptopay bitcoin debit card on blue background

CryptoPay is a pre-paid bitcoin debit card that offers low commission fees, free worldwide delivery, and can be used where major credit cards are accepted. Both physical and virtual prepaid cards are available, although you will have to give your full identification to take advantage of all the card’s main features. Failure to provide ID will only give you limited access of the card features.

The card is available to buy at this moment in time for 15 USD/EUR/GBP respectively. There are affordable monthly fees of $1, and a 1% charge when you convert your bitcoin.

Conclusion:

Ultimately we want to spend our digital currencies as easily as we spend our traditional cash. Cryptocurrency debit cards are the first step towards wider adoption, and it’s an exciting time to be part of this monetary revolution.

This article was updated on October 11th to include information about eligible countries.

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