Can Crypto Credit Cards and Self-Custody Mix?

Is there a world where crypto credit cards can coexist with the safety and assurance of a cold wallet?


Kisada Muanta/ modified by Blockworks


Witnessing millions of people lose access to their savings on centralized exchanges and crypto debit accounts is a sobering moment for crypto. Since the infamous moment on Nov. 6 when FTX showed signs of insolvency, investors have moved over 200,000 BTC off exchanges. That is 1% of the total supply. The ‘not your keys’ meme is a dead horse no one is particularly keen on visiting. 

But still, the feeling of no longer being able to use a BlockFi card has many wondering if there is a world where crypto credit cards can coexist along with the safety and assurance of a cold wallet. And while the importance of self-custody may reign supreme in the zeitgeist for now, how long will it be before it’s traded in for the convenience of a third party?     

If the crypto industry wants the indispensability of self-custody permanently engraved into its psyche, it needs to plan for the next wave of crypto adoption. It needs to appeal to the collective need for convenience. 

There is one crypto credit card company that is already planning ahead. Curve, the London-based fintech, believes that crypto credit card rewards will be a significant gateway for the crypto curious and that their app will make self-custody a natural and necessary step for the next wave.

We sat down with the team at Curve to learn more about their role in transitioning these new Web3 users to self-custody.

What is Curve?

Amanda Orson, CEO of Curve US, gave a brief history and description of Curve: “Curve is a payments fintech with 4 million customers in the UK and Europe. We were born in London, but purpose-built in New York for the American market.” A good example of this is crypto; Curve US is leading crypto expansion for all of Curve, globally, because we recognize the need. Crypto adoption in the United States is roughly 20%, compared to just 5% in the UK and 2-4% in most European markets.” 

Curve serves as a single contact point for all of a user’s potential financial payment mechanisms. Using only the Curve card, customers can access multiple funding methods: “Curve is one card that sits on top of a smart wallet that connects to your other underlying funding accounts, which can hold more than just cards. By connecting all of your underlying accounts and cards to Curve, you gain a lot of great functionality on the other side. We like to call it supercharging your money.”

But the vital aspect of all this includes how Curve can help make it easier for people to self-custody their crypto holdings.

How does Curve help with self-custody?

Curve comes with several tools that can both offer flexible payment methods and assist individuals on the path to self-custody. For example, “by having all of your underlying funding cards attached to Curve, and using Curve as your payment device, you can use our feature [called] “go back in time.” That allows you to change the way that you paid for something within one billing period,” said Orson.

The Curve card lets you customize which types of purchases are paid for with each payment method linked to your account. These are referred to as “smart rules.” Orson put it this way: “Smart rules is one screen in the app that lets you predetermine what card you always want to have charged for any of several highly rewarded categories. So, like dining, miles, you name it, we’re about to release one that will allow you to do it by merchant, in addition, but that makes the Curve card literally smart. You tap it, or you swipe it and depending on what category that is, it goes to one repayment card or to another depending on the category you chose.”

This allows users to maximize rewards, which can be received in crypto and sent to a self-custody wallet.

Orson concluded by adding that “the most important thing is that it lets you drive and see your money and we give you rewards on top of your other repayment card in most circumstances.”

How does this model assist mass market adoption?

The critical distinction between this model and the now infamous crypto savings accounts is that there is no yield incentive for staking crypto on the platform. This model leans on the fact that everyone will continue to use credit cards for purchases in the future. And the credit card user base is magnitudes larger than crypto natives – a user base fatigued and battle-tested from the crypto winter. Offering just a fraction of credit card users the simple and familiar benefit of cryptoback rewards can send countless more adopters down the digital asset rabbit hole. 

Orson said that Curve sees it like this: “We think that the future for crypto is mass market adoption and the way to get to mass market adoption is not a 20-step onboarding process…it’s something that looks more like Web2.”

Continuing with the self-custody narrative, Orson noted that Curve doesn’t rely on centralized exchanges: “The difference between us and the other crypto rewards cards on the market is that we’re not tied to a centrally held exchange.”

When asked how Curve functions without a centralized exchange, Orson clarified: “it’s not that we operate without one. We work with a third party called Zero Hash; the distinction is we are encouraging our customers to do what is in their best interest.”

Today, taking ownership of your private keys involves several steps and can be intimidating for less tech-savvy users.

Soon, Curve will make the process of going from fiat rewards to self-custodied crypto seamless: “What we actually do is allow people to take their cash back and convert it into crypto. And we are about to release an off ramp for them to self-custody the crypto rewards they’ve earned.”

In light of recent events, features like these, along with Curve’s revenue model, will not only open crypto to new users, it will encourage them to explore the benefits of their rewards by moving them to self-storage.

This content is sponsored by Curve.

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