MCO crypto-VISA gateway card is great, but its app isn’t a crypto wallet

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Weiwu Zhang
February 1, 2019
Tags: Reviews
MCO crypto-VISA gateway card is great, but its app isn’t a crypto wallet

Having had my MCO card for a month I think it’s about the time to write a review. No matter how blockchain users like me prefer to pay in crypto, the retail world moves at its own pace. Crypto-fiat gateway card is still a must-have item in my wallet.

The good bits: it works well as a fiat card

Having been a magnetic-strip-only COINJAR card user for four years, it’s a pleasure to have the additional security provided by a chip and convenience provided by VISA Paywave.

It comes with airport lounge access so I get to retire my frequent flyer card in my wallet as well, reducing the number of cards I have to carry to … only one. You might wonder “what about your credit cards”. I don’t own those.

SGD Dollar and MCO Card

At the moment, the card is still a perk for those who live in Singapore, therefore it comes to no surprise that SGD is the card’s base currency.

The card has a Bitcoin balance, which can be used to top up the base currency SGD. It also has balances for various fiat currencies like USD and AUD, but they can only be bought using SGD (not Bitcoin), which happens automatically at the moment of purchase. Being able to connect to a Bitcoin-fiat market is a lot of work, so I accept SGD, not Bitcoin, being used as the base currency and not call it a defect. The forex rate is excellent, almost without any mark-up typically imposed by banks.

Story of MCO

This card was born out of the Ethereum-lit crypto boom in 2017, took a year to develop and entered the market just a month ago. Unlike my previous Coinjar card which was born out of the Bitcoin crypto boom in 2013, the new generation projects have new, experimental business models. While Wirex Limited, a competitor of a traditional model, asks a down payment of 200USD to get you the first card, MCO asks each customer to move a lot more money, 10,000USD (or 100,000USD if you want some privilege), to purchase their coin Monaco (MCO). These are invested in the future of the project since MCO coins don’t have utility value. I can get MCO coins as cash-back rewards for spending though.

To get you started, I am sending you a sign-up bonus of $80,00 USD. Sign up in the app, use my referral link or use the code: 8z8yps53py when registering.

The bad bit: it’s not a crypto wallet

If you have Bitcoin with wallet, the mobile app, it will show the balance, but you can’t send the Bitcoin.

What is the wallet that can’t send its balance?

If you have a trading account, like in Gemini, you wouldn’t pay your Bitcoin from it. You withdraw it from Gemini to your Bitcoin wallet, say, Mycelium, then spend it. This is a regular practice for Bitcoin custodianship without wallet feature., the issuer of the card, operates as a trading account, but it blatantly calls itself Wallet. When a user installs a crypto wallet, he expects to spend from it, and wallet doesn’t let you do that. You need to first withdraw Bitcoin to your “wallet”.

Withdraw from your wallet

It’s a semantic joke: “withdraw from your wallet to your real Bitcoin wallet”.

There are other payment gateways that also behave like a trading account. A COINJAR user would “withdraw” its Bitcoins. But at least COINJAR’s mobile app (and Gemini’s) didn’t call themselves “wallet”.
It costed me dearly to learn this. I went to a deal with some bitcoins in my balance, clicks “send Bitcoin”, got a “how much do you want to withdraw” message, typed in the number and waited. Then, one hour has gone, two hours… until I had to invite my trading partner for dinner to wait out. Eventually, I learned that it takes days to “Withdraw”. folks if you are reading this, please change the name of your app so that it is not a “wallet” until you retire the “withdraw” function with a proper “pay anyone” function. Just call it “card app” as COINJAR folks do.

Weiwu Zhang with MCO card


All in all, card delivered the essence of what it offered, a rare occurrence in the blockchain world. I didn’t find anything that I am not happy with except the misleading naming of their mobile app, and I am famous for being a negative person!

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