The ShakePay card is one of the early adopters in a growing field of directly Dash-enabled debit cards. It’s a streamlined, simple card that works surprisingly well for how basic it looks.
This review is broken down into function and form categories, with a summary at the end.
Card The card itself is very plain, a simple black card with no issuer details public visible. The only distinguishing factor is “prepaid” written on the card. The card functions well with swipe or chip. Compared to other cards, with which I had issues being declined at various merchants, with ShakePay I’ve never experienced an issue. The card simply works.
Loading Unlike some other cards, which have an internal wallet, with ShakePay you simply send Dash to the card loading address and it gets processed into a fiat balance. Very straightforward. The absence of an internal wallet means that with Bitcoin you can’t pre-send some over for quick loading, meaning you might have to wait a few hours every time you decide to load your card, but with Dash this isn’t a problem.
For a speed test I sent Dash using InstantSend and gauged the time it took for funds to appear on my card. The time between when the transaction was sent to the time I had available balance on the card was seven minutes total. This is likely due to an additional confirmation beyond InstantSend being required (some services require this), taking up roughly two minutes, and a five minute processing time to load the funds. This means you can drive to morning coffee, realize you don’t have enough funds on your card, add Dash, and have available funds by the time you’ve entered the coffee shop and have to pay for your order.
Fees Issuing a card costs $15, and a monthly $1 maintenance fee is assessed. Bitcoin loading fees are %1, while Dash and Ethereum are 3%. For Dash this ends up being a little high, but compared to using ShapeShift to switch to Bitcoin and dealing with all those fees and delays, it ends up being worth it.
Availability As with most cryptocurrency cards, ShakePay is available all over the world, with a few notable exceptions, namely the US. Cards can still be denominated in US dollars, but must be shipped to a foreign address.
Web interface The web app is simple and streamlined, providing a clean interface with the requisite information and nothing more. Basic account settings and card information is clearly displayed, along with card limits and fees. Basic options are to load and create cards, as well as upgrade the AML/KYC level of verification.
Mobile interface The mobile app, on the other hand, is extremely bare-bones. It’s so simple that when I first download it I thought I had the wrong app. It mainly includes a transaction history and an option to load funds. The simplicity certainly takes some getting used to, and the average consumer may be hesitant to trust it at first.
Ordering a card The ordering process was disconcertingly simple, and a bit confusing. I filled out my address, but could find no clear “order card” option. Instead I was prompted to load the card to get started. The invoice generated amounted to about $36 worth of Dash, while the amount to be loaded said $20. After loading I received a confirmation text.
What really happened was that I ordered a card and loaded it in a single action, and the card was shipped to me. However, none of this was very clear, and for weeks I wasn’t even sure that the card had been ordered. To better avoid misunderstandings, customers should be informed that the invoice breakdown includes the card fee, and shown a message indicating that their card has indeed been shipped.
Pros: Reliable card, verified and unverified options, easy and fast loading.
Cons: High fees for loading Dash, confusingly simple interface, not available in the US.