Back in 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto (probably a pseudonym for multiple people), wrote a whitepaper outlining the premise of digital currencies.
The paper said nothing about skyrocketing investment values and the massive proliferation of tokens. Rather, it envisioned a peer-to-peer digital currency that could be managed collectively (through the blockchain) instead of through a financial institution. The idea was that an algorithm would expand the money supply, and the blockchain would show proof of ownership.
Since that initial conception, cryptocurrencies have come a long way. We’re closing in on a new world of “hyper ledger” which maintains security while reducing computation workloads.
However, being able to use crypto in the real world to buy actual goods and services has up till now still been more difficult than spending fiat currencies. But Wirex is a cryptocurrency and fiat exchange platform designed to make it easy to quickly and easily “spend” crypto. Here’s how it works.
Up to 12% (Paid In WXT)
Vary By Token
$10 In Free WXT After You Make Your First Deposit
Pros And Cons
What Is Wirex?
Wirex is an app and desktop interface designed to make it cheap and easy to adopt digital currency use in everyday life. The company wants to simplify digital currencies so that everyday people can share in the network benefits of a cashless digital economy.
The company was founded in 2014 and it supports customers in 130 countries. Its Wirex Debit Card is available across the European Union, Great Britain, and Singapore. Its other exchange features are available much more broadly.
Wirex isn’t the only crypto-to-fiat exchange platform and it’s not the only crypto bank. It’s not even the only crypto debit card. However, it appears to be a leader in creating an ambitious digital banking solution for everyday people who need banking services.
What Does It Offer?
Wirex is an “all-in-one” exchange, banking, and investment platform for digital currency users. A significant portion of this review will focus on the company's Wirex account and savings platform options since this is unique compared to several other exchanges. However, the company has many other features under the hood.
Free Wirex Account And Debit Card
The standard Wirex account entitles the user to a Wirex debit card, no-fee interbank exchange rates for fiat currency exchanges, and free (plus commission) over-the-counter rates for cryptocurrency exchange.
This account is designed to get users to spend their cryptocurrencies. It offers 0.5% Cryptoback (WTX tokens) on all in-store purchases.
Upgrade For Enhanced WXT Interest
Standard Wirex accounts don’t pay interest. However, Premium and Elite users receive hefty savings bonuses in WXT. WXT is the native token of the Wirex platform.
The company explains that 1 WXT is worth approximately €.01. Users of the platform can earn WXT when they spend using the WireX debit card.
Additionally, users can upgrade to more expensive accounts to earn interest in the form of WXT. Premium users (who pay 999 WXT per month) earn 4% interest each year. Elite users (who pay 2999 WXT per month) earn up to 12% interest per year. All interest is paid in WXT.
Cryptoback Spending Options On Debit Transactions
Standard account holders with with a Wirex debit card will earn 0.5 WXT for each Euro spent in an in-store debit transaction.
Premium account holders, meanwhile, earn earn 1 WXT for each Euro spent online and in-store. And Elite account holders bump up their earnings to 2 WXT per Euro spent.
The exact cryptoback rate depends on the fiat currency in use. But the “cryptoback” rates roughly translate to 0.5-2% back.
Low-Cost Crypto Transfers And Fiat-To-Fiat Exchanges
Wirex is an ultra-low fee platform for people looking to send cryptocurrencies to friends or family. Transfers between Wirex users are completely free.
Wirex also gives users free interbank exchange rates on fiat currencies. The fiat currencies it currently supports include EUR, GBP, CAD, CZK, HUF, PLN, RON, HRK, and USD.
Please note, that supported fiat currencies do not necessarily imply the ability to use a Wirex debit card in the associated nation. Currently, Wirex cards are only usable in the UK, the European Union, and Singapore.
Are There Any Fees?
The Wirex Standard account is free to use. However, top-ups from a crypto account cost 1%. The company also charges a 2% ATM fee on all transactions after $400 SGD (Singapore).
Cryptocurrency also trades at an over-the-counter rate plus a commission. The commission is not clearly outlined anywhere on the Wirex site but appears to vary based on token type.
In addition to these less avoidable fees, Wirex has tiered account offerings for users. It charges 999 WXT for a Premium account and 2999 WXT (roughly €29.99) for an Elite account.
The Premium account entitles you to a 4% annual savings bonus for all WXT holdings. The Elite account entitles you to a 12% annual savings bonus for all WXT holdings. It's important to note that the bonus only applies to WXT, not all tokens or currencies.
How Does Wirex Compare?
As a cryptocurrency exchange, Wirex is a little dull. It only supports a handful of tokens. The full supported list is here. That said, Wirex doesn’t promote the exchange as its primary value. Rather, its low cost and high usability are primary value drivers.
For people living in the United States, Wirex offers an interesting concept that could help users save on exchange fees (both between fiat currencies while traveling and on crypto trades). Those living within the EU, Great Britain, or Singapore can see even greater benefits. They can use Wirex to spend and save cryptocurrency.
By inventing a token, paying a meaningful interest rate, and cutting costs, and introducing a debit card, Wirex has pushed the envelope. It’s refreshing to see a more financial look at digital currencies rather than having yet another blockchain developed for its own sake
But no one can predict the future. It’s impossible to say whether Wirex (and its WXT token) will be the future of digital currencies or if it's 12% interest rate will merely allow 12% of nothing to grow. Check out how Wirex compares in this table:
Free Between Users
Free Between Users
Cryptoback Debit Card
Yes, In Some Countries
Coming Soon to The U.S.
How Do I Open An Account?
Opening an account involves three relatively quick steps (assuming that you have valid government-issued documentation).
First, you provide your name, ID number (country-specific), and address. Then you’ll take a picture of your government-issued photo ID. Last, you’ll take a selfie which will allow Wirex to validate your identity.
For me, the whole process took just a few minutes. After that, transferring funds and connecting wallets can move relatively quickly. The whole point of Wirex is to make accessing digital currency simple. The easy account process makes that a reality.
Is It Safe And Secure?
Overall, Wirex uses best practices related to security including visual ID and multi-factor account authentication. Digital crypto wallets are always a higher-risk option But Wirex does its best to mitigate these risks.
Safety has another dimension as well. Users will want to try to figure out whether the tokens in their accounts will retain their value over time. WXT, Wirex’s bespoke token, is a relatively low-value and stable coin.
Some account holders seem convinced that WXT is the next Bitcoin. Others see it as a stable complement to fiat currencies. But no company can guarantee the future value of a given token. Wirex, for all its merits, is no exception to the rule.
How Do I Contact Wirex?
Wirex has multiple contact options. The best place to start is through the company’s Help Centre which has answers to most FAQs including various country-specific answers.
If you’re in the UK, you can contact the company through a chat feature in the app. Wirex says that this feature will be rolled out across the European Union soon.
Users outside of this area can submit help requests through the Wirex webpage or find answers on the active community forums.
Is It Worth It?
Wirex is a thriving digital currency platform. But its value is directly linked to the value of its WXT token. If that token flops, the platform could crumble under its weight.
From everything I see, Wirex is hoping for WXT to be a store of value and a spendable digital currency. It doesn’t want it to be the next Bitcoin or Litecoin. Because of this, it seems unlikely that the double-digit interest rates are likely to last much longer.
Even without the sky-high interest rates, Wirex shows promise as a platform. I love that it’s cutting costs and making it easy to use cryptocurrency in meaningful ways.
Using Wirex is unlikely to make you a rich investor. But it will put you on the vanguard of digital currency banking. And that’s an exciting place to be.
Crypto spending, savings, transfers, and exchange platform
Interest Rate On Deposits
Premium: Up to 4%
Elite: Up to 12%
Fee For Top-Ups From A Crypto Account
2% on all transactions after $400 SGD
Vary by token
Debit Card Spending Limit
$5,000 per day
ATM Withdrawal Limit
Aside from your password, account security enhancements include:
- Multi-factor account authentication
Mobile App Availability
Android and iOS
Customer Support Options
Contact form, Help Center, live chat (UK only)
$10 in free WXT after you make your first deposit
Robert Farrington is the founder and editor of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to young adult and college student finances.