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Bitwala

Bitwala Review

Bitwala is a unique service that bridges the gap between legacy finance and cryptocurrencies. It is one of the first platforms to offer both banking as well as non-custodial crypto wallet and trading services, and even has its own debit card that can be used for spending money and crypto daily. The offer is available to EU residents only and seems to be getting positive feedback from users.

General info

  • Web address: Bitwala
  • Support contact: Link
  • Main location: Berlin, Germany
  • Daily volume: ? BTC
  • Mobile app available: Yes
  • Is decentralized: No
  • Parent Company: Bitwala GmbH
  • Transfer types: Bank Transfer, Crypto Transfer
  • Supported fiat: EUR
  • Supported pairs: 2
  • Has token: -
  • Fees: Low (Compare rates)

Pros

  • EUR bank account and crypto wallet
  • Bitwala debit card
  • Low trading fee
  • Extremely user-friendly

Cons

  • Limited number of coins
  • Low privacy measures
  • Some users report their account getting frozen

Screenshots

Bitwala review: key features

Bitwala is a European blockchain bank that makes it easy to buy and sell crypto for euros (EUR). The company was founded in 2013 and is continuing to grow into a popular financial service in Europe.

bitwala review homepage

The most notable features of Bitwala include:

  • Bank account for Euros and crypto. Whether you receive your salary in Bitcoin, ether, or Euros doesn't matter anymore because you can receive, spend, and convert them in seconds with one Bitwala account.
  • EUR 100,000 deposit guarantee. Bitwala guarantees that you'll get your Euros back even if things go south. Though, the insurance doesn't apply to your BTC holdings.
  • 1% crypto trading fee. Bitwala has one of the cheapest ways of buying bitcoin directly from your bank account. The same fee applies for selling crypto for fiat, too.
  • 24/7 customer support team. Customer service is quick to offer genuine replies to all sorts of queries, even outside of business hours.
  • Secure, non-custodial platform. Bitwala doesn't hold your crypto keys; hence it cannot lose your coins.
  • Crypto savings account. Bitwala lets you earn interest on your crypto holdings via a partnership with Celsius Network.
  • Free crypto debit card with worldwide payment and free cash withdrawals. Spend crypto on the go, wherever and whenever you need it.

Overall, Bitwala is an excellent solution for beginners looking for a user-friendly crypto experience. The service makes it easy to buy and sell crypto, as well as use crypto in daily banking activities, and even earn interest on your crypto holdings. As a bonus, you get a EUR bank account to receive and send payments, which makes it a unique and modern one-stop-shop solution for all things finance.

Background and history

Bitwala had its humble beginnings in 2013 when three friends began pursuing the idea of paying for everyday items with bitcoin. In 2015, Bitwala was finally bootstrapped and launched their MVP product - a bank transfer for cryptocurrencies and a prepaid debit card. In 2016, Bitwala raised its first funding round of EUR 800,000 from High-Tech Grunderfonds, Digital Currency Group, and an angel investor. At the time, it was processing approximately EUR 75 million in transfers and opened an office in Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany.

bitwala review

In 2018, Bitwala had to cease its operations due to the shutdown of its banking partner, Wavecrest. Later in the year, Bitwala shifted its strategic goal towards becoming a bank for the blockchain economy and raised an additional EUR 4 million from investors EarlyBird and Coparion. The company has regained its access to traditional finance by establishing a new partnership with German enterprise solarisBank.

In 2019, Bitwala raised another EUR 13 million in a Series A funding. Its team exceeded 80 employees, and the company is well on its way to bridge the gap between legacy and crypto finance.

BITWALA INVESTORS

As of 2020, the company’s vision sounds like this:

We want to empower people to exchange value like they exchange ideas. Globally, instantly and at the lowest possible cost.

Bitwala’s management team consists of its CEO and co-founder Ben Jones, Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), and co-founder Jan Goslicki, CFO Christoph Iwaniez, and Chief Growth Officer Philipp Beer.

Bitwala team

Ever since Bitwala turned from payments to new generation banking, the service has to comply with the German Banking Act, which means strict regulations and anti-money laundering procedures are applied to all of its customers.

The full credentials of the company are:

Bitwala GmbH
Ohlauer Straße 43
10999 Berlin Germany
Company Registration Number: HRB173698B , Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Germany
Managing Directors: Christoph Iwaniez, Jan Goslicki, Benjamin P. Jones
Tax Number: DE305362792

bitwala review customers

Bitwala services all natural persons who have a permanent residence in the Federal Republic of Germany or any other member state of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, meaning that the service is available only to people who reside in Europe.

When signing up for Bitwala, keep in mind that you’re opening both a crypto digital wallet, as well as a German bank account. Hence, all new Bitwala users must undergo a know-your-customer (KYC) check. The verification takes place using a live video chat via Bitwala’s mobile app, and you need to showcase your face and identification document (ID or passport). The whole process takes approximately 10 - 15 minutes.

Visit Bitwala

Bitwala fees

bitwala fees review

Bitwala has a relatively straightforward fee structure that includes both banking as well as crypto buying and selling costs. Its fees fall into three categories: banking fees, crypto service fees, and fees for other services.

When it comes to banking services fees, Bitwala offers its users the following rates:

Banking servicesTypeRate
Account ManagementAccount opening & managementFREE
SEPA TransactionsOutgoing SEPA transferFREE
 Incoming transfersFREE
Credit TransactionsCard payments (EUR/SEPA area)FREE
 Card payments (other currency/SEPA area)FREE
 All other card paymentsFREE
LimitsMaximum offline card disposal per dayEUR 3,000
 Maximum online card disposal per dayEUR 5,000
Cash WithdrawalsATM withdrawal in SEPA areaFREE (some ATM providers may charge their own fee)
 ATM withdrawal outside SEPA areaFREE (some ATM providers may charge their own fee)
 Maximum card withdrawalsEUR 3,000

Crypto services fees are on the lower side of the spectrum, too. For example, converting BTC to EUR via a regular exchange would typically include a string of fees, including conversion and withdrawal fees, but with Bitwala, you’re only paying a mere 1% of the transaction amount.

Crypto servicesTypeRate
Trading CryptocurrencyBuying Cryptocurrency1% (+ EUR 1 network fee)
 Selling Cryptocurrency1% (+ current network fees)
 Minimum trade amountEUR 30
 Maximum trade amountEUR 15,000
 Trading limitEUR 30,000 per rolling 7 days
Cryptocurrency TransactionsReceiving crypto depositsFREE
 Sending cryptocurrencyFREE
 All other card paymentsFREE (+ current network fees)

Here are other service fees and limits you should keep in mind:

Other servicesRate
Account openingFREE
Initial ordering card in GermanyFREE
Investigation orderOn-demand
High Deposit Fee (more than EUR 50,000)Variable rate set by ECB
Replacement card feeEUR 9.50
Postal bank statementOn-demand

Overall, Bitwala appears to be running a relatively cheap crypto bank service with a simple and transparent fee schedule. If you’re planning to make use of its bank account, then you’re also unlikely to find a cheaper way to convert your EUR to crypto and vice versa directly to and from your bank account in Europe.

Bitwala security

Bitwala is a fully regulated non-custodial German service provider that complies with the country’s laws and regulations. For example, your Bitwala’s bank account is run by solarisBank, so your EUR funds (up to 100,000) are insured by the German Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS). As such, it can be considered a highly secure service with legal guarantees.

bitwala verification

However, deposit insurance doesn’t cover the loss of your bitcoin or ethereum holdings. Bitwala is a non-custodial crypto digital wallet provider, meaning that at no time Bitwala or anyone else can access or control your crypto funds or transactions. The only thing you have to take care of is your wallet’s private keys and a couple of backup keys that should be kept safely offline.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, excessive regulations force every Bitwala user to reveal their identity, which may be considered as a personal security hazard. As such, the service might not be perceived as secure by privacy-minded individuals.

On the user side of things, you can protect your account with a strong password and two-factor authentication (2FA). Bitwala account is also linked with your phone number, so you will receive an SMS mTAN code every time you log in to the platform. Also, you can choose to log in to the mobile app using your fingerprint.

Overall, Bitwala is a highly secure service provider with no history of security breaches. With regulations for your bank account, as well as non-custodial crypto wallet support, you can be confident that your funds are safe all the time.

Go to Exchange

Design and usability

Bitwala is a very beginner-friendly solution for everyone. Not only does it make it easy to buy and sell bitcoin, but it also makes it simple to receive EUR, BTC, and ETH payments as well as spend those currencies on your daily needs.

You can access Bitwala either via its web platform or mobile app. Both mediums offer excellent user interface and experience, and the key difference seems to be that you cannot verify our account as well as manage Ethereum (ETH) wallet and purchases via the web platform.

When it comes to platform design, using Bitwala is super simple, easy, and pleasant. In fact, it makes it so easy to open and set up your account, that even your grandma could probably do it. Both web platform and mobile apps guide users through the entire registration and wallet opening process while making sure that there are no external distractions. The same applies to setting up BTC and ETH crypto wallets - the service explains why and how to do it properly.

After you register and log in on the web platform, you will see a simple menu and account overview. Here, you can see your transaction history, IBAN, referral code, or order Bitwala’s debit card.

bitwala review account

In the menu, you can also see “Account” and “Wallet” sections. In the “Account” window, you can manage your bank operations such as send or receive EUR payments. In the “Wallet” section, you can send or receive BTC. Mind that sending or receiving Ethereum (ETH) is currently available on the mobile app only.

Bitwala SEPA transfer

In the “Trading” section, you can perform Bitcoin trades (again, ETH trades are available on mobile only).

Bitwala review trading

Last but not least, “Control” window lets you review and edit your personal and contact information, tax information, review account statements, do your crypto taxes, check Bitwala’s card settings, and manage your account security as well as reach out to the Bitwala’s customer support team.

bitwala review account control

In the “Refer & Earn” section, you can also find your referral code and earn EUR 15 per every friend you invite to use Bitwala.

bitwala review refer and earn

Although it only supports Bitcoin and Ethereum for now, in the future, Bitwala’s support center mentions plans to expand its digital assets offering.

Bitwala mobile app

Bitwala’s mobile app is much like its web application, although it has a somewhat more beautiful design and supports more features (like ETH wallet). It is easy and convenient to use and guides its user through most of the processes.

bitwala mobile app

It lets you:

  • Manage and review your portfolio
  • Send and receive EUR payments
  • Open non-custodial bitcoin and ethereum wallets
  • Send, receive, and convert BTC and ETH
  • Manage your Bitwala card
  • Access other vital features of Bitwala.

While it's difficult to compare, the app is probably even more comfortable to use than its web alternative. Besides, it has a helpful guide, Lola, who will help you to open cryptocurrency wallets in an understandable and secure manner.

Bitwala’s card

Bitwala issues a contactless debit card, which lets you make payments wherever MasterCard is accepted - be it in stores, online, or over the phone.

Bitwala’s debit card is a EUR card, meaning that you don’t get to spend BTC directly - it only deducts your EUR balance. Nonetheless, Bitwala makes it convenient to convert your BTC to EUR via its mobile app, so you can always spend your cryptocurrency on a moment’s notice.

The app also lets you change your pin code, block or report lost card, and change its PIN code. Mind that it is a contactless card, so it also supports up to EUR 25 NFC payments.

Bitwala’s crypto earnings account

Bitwala lets you put your crypto to work and earn up to 4.51% of annual interest for your bitcoin. As a result of a partnership with Celsius Network, you can open a BTC Interest Account and receive interest payments on your BTC every Monday.

bitwala earn interest

You can withdraw your BTC from the BTC Interest Account at any time you like, and won’t receive any penalty for withdrawing too early. However, keep in mind that investing in crypto finance products at this stage may have significant risks, as there is no deposit insurance, no state supervision, and risk of extreme volatility.

Crypto tax

Last but not least, Bitwala supports crypto tax reporting. As per cooperation with CryptoTax, all of your crypto purchases and sales are recorded in a manner that makes it easy to obtain and download a custom, ready-made record for the tax authorities.

Customer support

Another great feature of Bitwala is its excellent customer support. It starts with a comprehensive customer support center which has guides and explanations on all aspects of Bitwala services.

Alternatively, you can contact Bitwala’s customer support via the following channels:

The fastest way to contact customer support is via live chat in the app and on its website. Either way, you can expect to get an email reply to your query within a few hours or so.

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Deposit and withdrawal methods

Bitwala makes deposits and withdrawals easy as pie. Currently, supported methods include bank transfer and crypto transfers.

You can top up your bank account with bank transfer at any point in time, and you can send or receive bitcoin and ether directly to your digital wallets as well.

Bitwala digital wallet

Unfortunately, there is no way to top up your Bitwala account using a debit or credit card, which is often considered the fastest way to buy crypto. However, you can top up your account with either bitcoin or ether, which can work as a quick workaround for now.

Despite this inconvenience, Bitwala remains one of the fastest and most affordable ways to buy and sell BTC and ETH directly with your bank account.

Conclusion

Bitwala is an excellent compromise for European crypto enthusiasts who want to merge their banking and crypto operations. By combining low exchange fees, debit card, bank account, and crypto-wallets, Bitwala is currently one-of-a-kind company to facilitate crypto adoption in Europe.

Although it supports only BTC and ETH for now, it offers non-custodial digital wallet service, as well as a convenient way to report your crypto taxes. As such, its services are highly secure, although they might not appear suitable for crypto privacy proponents. However, if you’re looking for a safe and reliable fiat-to-crypto bridge, Bitwala remains one of the top beginner-friendly options in Europe.

Summary

  • Web address: Bitwala
  • Support contact: Link
  • Main location: Berlin, Germany
  • Daily volume: ? BTC
  • Mobile app available: Yes
  • Is decentralized: No
  • Parent Company: Bitwala GmbH
  • Transfer types: Bank Transfer, Crypto Transfer
  • Supported fiat: EUR
  • Supported pairs: 2
  • Has token: -
  • Fees: Low (Compare rates)