What Xapo has done that is different is to strike a deal with MasterCard that allows it to piggy-back on the credit card provider’s widely used payment network.
In practice, it works like this: Sally spends $ 10 at her local coffee shop and elects to pay with her Xapo debit card. When the barista swipes her card, MasterCard will confirm over its network whether or not the funds are available. So long as Sally has $ 10 worth of bitcoins in her account, she will be able to have her coffee.
On the backend, what happens is that Xapo will confirm to MasterCard whether or not Sally has the funds — and it will know this because it knows how many bitcoins Sally has in her wallet. And when the coffee shop transaction occurs, Xapo will immediately debit her account by selling the appropriate amount of bitcoin on the Bitstamp exchange.
MasterCard will then pass on the $ 10 that Sally spent to the coffee shop, minus its customary commission fee of 2 or 3 percent.
Sally can also, of course, use the Xapo debit card online to buy songs from iTunes or place an order from Amazon.
symbiosis is the habitual living together of organisms of different species. The term is usually restricted to a dependent relationship that is beneficial to both participants (also called mutualism) but may be extended to include parasitism, in which the parasite depends upon and is injurious to its host.