OpEd: Burned By Bitwala – Visa Card Money Gone When Wavecrest Wound Down
by Richard Kastelein
I don’t often take companies to task in this business unless they are total scams or just lousy operators. In this case, it’s the latter… and enough is enough. Sure it’s only €500 euro, but it’s €500 euro of my own money that I worked for. It’s a hotel for a week, a flight to the Canaries return from Amsterdam, a month’s groceries for my family.
In early 2018, Bitwala stopped their services when their prepaid card provider WaveCrest Holdings had its license pulled by VISA over compliance issues. Suddenly my VISA card was useless. This also happened at a slew of other crypto services such as Coinsbank (who still have no credit/debit card, charge €30+ for SEPA transfers which take up to seven days… but that’s another story), Cryptopay, TenX and Wirex. Most managed to find other solutions.
The gist of it is – Bitwala managed my money – I trusted them. After telling me for months they would get my prepaid funds back from Wavecrest, they never sorted it out – despite my numerous emails.
In the end, after months of back and forth, promises of they were working on it, and they would get it back, they basically told me to piss off more or less – and gave me an email address at some company called MyChoiceCorporate and said get it back yourself. Great. What a waste of my time. What awesome service. Not.
No one even bothered to reply from MyChoiceCorporate to help and support tickets or emails. Bitwala told me I needed the last four numbers of my credit card, which I no longer had as it went with a stolen wallet in 2018. But was also told I would get my money back after they did KYC/AML me to ensure I was who I said I was. Well, this never happened. No one can be bothered over €500 euro.
“We want to assure you that your funds are safe and that our main priority right now is returning them to you in a timely manner.”
“…We again sincerely apologize for any and all inconvenience this has caused our users. Please be assured that Bitwala feels the same pain and that we are committed and already hard at work in establishing an all-new Bitwala card program.”
Sure it’s only €500 euro… but it’s my €500 euro. And it’s in someone else’s bank account. My hard-earned money.
Bitwala’s argument seems to be: “…this happened two years ago, it’s really not our problem and tough luck – your problem now, not ours.
Well, tough luck to you Bitwala. I am a publisher and at least I can vent over the loss of my money in a crowded arena. For alternatives who offer better service, I suggest Wirex or Cryptocard. Bitwala appears to not give a toss about their customers.
Founder and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST 2015), a partner at ICO services collective Token.Agency ($750m+ and 90+ ICOs and STOs), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) – Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards of some two dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1500 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat.Irish Tech News put him in the top 10 Token Architects in Europe.
Kastelein has an Ad Honorem – Honorary Ph.D. and is Chair Professor of Blockchain at China’s first Blockchain University in Nanchang at the Jiangxi Ahead Institute of Software and Technology. In 2018 he was invited to and attended University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School for Business Automation 4.0 programme. Over a half a decade experience judging and rewarding some 1000+ innovation projects as an EU expert for the European Commission’s SME Instrument programme as a startup assessor and as a startup judge for the UK government’s Innovate UK division.
Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London (5x), Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, Prague, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara (2x), Shanghai, Singapore (3x), Tel Aviv, Utrecht, Venice, Visakhapatnam, Zwolle and Zurich.
He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe. He’s written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com, and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French. A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart, Kastelein’s professional career has ranged from political publishing to TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to marketing and more as he’s travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian expatriate living around the world. In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Seas’ travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he’s raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.