WB21 Bank now officially accepts bitcoin deposits.

No, really they do ... let that one soak in for a minute.

It's fair to guess that these guys are not part of the group paying R3CEV salaries to reinvent wheels. No, nothing in the realm of those organization would dare say such thing as "now accepting bitcoin deposits".

The global digital bank WB21 also offers many services as traditional banks including debit cards and unlike other offerings in the that space, the WB21 bank card is not limited to any single country and can be used world wide.

A real bank that accept bitcoin deposits to use instantly. Go figure.

But....

There's a Catch!

Is this all it's cracked up to be? Hell no. It is however a great step forward in the realm of things.

There's a bit of a catch. When you deposit your bitcoins you don't actually deposit bitcoins. You process bitcoins through BitPay and your deposit ends up in your account in one of the 18 different currencies WB21 supports. Your bitcoins are now gone an you have cash.

Then you can spend cash but not the coins. That's not terribly terrible but what if you realize you need to pay for something in bitcoin. Well... you cannot and that sucks.

There's no cash-back-to-bitcoin feature and that is a downside to the account and that's much like how the BitPay Visa card works.

Opening Accounts

WB21 claims that the account opening procedure is a fast and painless one and let me tell you that they underestimate this if anything. It's rare that a marketed "ease of use" is actually as easy to use as its claimed but in this case WB21 hits a home run.

I had an account open and funded within an hour. Getting the account open and documents verified took about 20 minutes or less. On that note you will have to submit identification and proof of address to complete the process and that may turn some people off but this is 2016 so get used to it.

Once opened I tossed $20 worth of bitcoin into my account and sure enough, here is the result:

Figure A: WB21 account deposit in bitcoin

Figure B: WB21 account balance (after bitcoin deposit)

Business Accounts

You can also open a business account just as easily and this is one major selling point for bitcoin based businesses who receive payment predominately in bitcoin. This can be useful for secondary payroll solutions, operating capitol where fiat currency is required, or overseas operations since WB21 will allow you to open an account in 18 different currencies (see figure B).

All in all the ability to deposit bitcoin is an unfortunate one-way street, so that is something to be cognizant of, however, the internationally recognized and unlimited ATM card, and business account offerings make WB21 a viable financial tool, especially for businesses and freelance contractors who get paid in bitcoin and need fiat currency sometimes. 

It's basically everything the NextBank scam in 2015 said it would be, however without the upfront requirement of an illegal investment. 

Side Note: Nextbank went away and no they never did bring legal action against dinbits media because they couldn't, they committing securities fraud and all kinds of other illegal activity. They also never became anything more than the pipe dream they were but at least they removed themselves without having to be pushed too hard. They should actually be sending us a thank you letter for stopping them from making a big life destroying mistake.

This bank is the real deal and currently their fees are accommodating. Obviously they cannot do anything about ATM operators fees, but the Debit Card fee breakdown:

Debit Card Fees

  • Free to pay in stores or online
  • 0.00% foreign exchange fee
  • 0.00 USD cash withdrawal fee
  • 8.00 USD issuing fee + shipping

That's physical cards. WB21 also offers virtual cards, a growing trend for privacy and security in online purchasing. The virtual card fees breakdown to:

Virtual Card Fees

  • First card is free
  • 2.00 USD per additional card

Which basically means you'll spend $2 per purchase, days purchasing, or subscription if you are using virtual cards for those reasons (very popular for privacy concerns).

Other Features and Security

Security, like with most banks, kind of sucks. There's no 2FA availability, however there is a timeout feature of 5 minutes per session (see figure C) that will log out of the users account when it expires and SMS monitoring is available and configurable.



Other offerings are the ability to send wire transfers to/from you account and inter-bank transfers between other account holders, your own accounts, and to/from other companies with business accounts held at WB21 Bank.

You can open an account in any of the 18 currencies (2 are required initially) and easily transfer funds between the accounts in what they call ATAT (account to account transfer) transfers between WB21 account holders. For everything else, there's international wires that work like any other banks online wires except they route through a proprietary process/system called IRTP which stands for International Real Time Payments and through this process you can pay anyone in the world instantly (sort of).  

This is monumentally impressive on its own and what really puts WB21 on the map in the first place, however oddly enough this doesn't work from 3rd party accounts to WB21 accounts. Funds wired to WB21 accounts route traditionally through SWIFT. unless they are from other WB21 accounts (in which case they would go through ATAP). That's because WB21 is more like PayPal in this respect. Your funds go to their bank which then get allocated to your account.

We tested this out as well and sent $10 of the $20 from the account to a United States bank account. There's a whopping 1% fee. That isn't cheap, but it's cheaper than payment solutions like PayPal who charge 2.9%. Of our $20 we were left with $9.90 in our account and received a processed confirmation back almost immediately. That's where you see the Hong Kong operation kick in as the receipt clearly shows WB21 Ltd., 18 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong as the sending entity. It wasn't instant. Then again it is a Saturday. 

Another confusing thing that appears is the "Express Wire" under the "Normal Wire" since "Normal Wire" is where you find the Real Time IRTP transfer. 

What does "Express Wire" do then? Go back in time?

Or perhaps that's the one that is really instant since the instant one wasn't instant. No clarity here, or anywhere for that matter. The documentation is non-existent which was a bit of a concern when first opening the account, it felt a bit "not right" being handed the account without any form of agreement or access to any terms and conditions. We'll put that aside for now.

One really nice feature is the additional accounts and currency conversions. You can easily swap USD to EUR and other currencies quickly by sending ATAT transfers before you send them to another destination (such as via wire).

About WB21

WB21 emerged on the radar in October of 2015 and was put together by Michael Gastauer who rqank #98 on Richtopia's top 100 influential (also lists Erik Vornees, Roger Ver, Barry Golbert, etc...) in the FinTech space and has been in the industry for well over a decade. The global digital bank is a group of companies operating financial institutions in various countries and headquartered in London, with offices in Zurich and Hong Kong. Service offerings include online accounts and real time Cross-Border payments. WB21 serves 180 countries and supports 18 currencies. The company uses a proprietary technology IRTP that allows global payments to third party bank accounts.

The group, which began in 2015, is comprised of:

WB21 GROUP
GLOBAL DIGITAL BANK 
    • WB21 Inc. United States - Developer
      • WB21 Inc. in the United States founded by Michael Gastauer and the software development operation of the conglomerate 
      • The Palo Alto based organization was the 1st entity established under WB21 Group
    • WB21 GmbH Switzerland - Payment Cards
      • WB21 GmbH in Zug, Switzerland operating as the card issuing center for the WB21 Group. 
    • WB21 Ltd. United Kingdom - Headquarters
      • WB21 Ltd. was incorporated in London and serves as the European Headquarters.
      • The London based entity is currently waiting on approval of their Payment Institution license with the Financial Conduct Authority FCA.
    • WB21 Limited in Hong Kong - Payments
      • WB21 Limited in Hong Kong operating as Stored Value Facility (SVF) under Hong Kong law, provides the P2P payment services for the WB21 Group. 

Currently the group has more than 700,000 customers, over $400M deposits and over $2B in cross border payments. Which basically means the organization is growing fast, back in February of 2016 they had merely 100,000 customers.

The Verdict

WB21 appears to be legitimate. We certainly cannot endorse them fully yet until we see the operation move forward, but they appear to have taken a step in the right direction. They are considered a bank however they appear to be more like PayPal should be and what Google Wallet failed to ever become. That is really more like 1 part bank and 2 parts payment platform, the latter of which appears unmatched in speed, however we have not been able to verify that.*

Assuming our wire ends up where it should be in a decent amount of time for the 1% we paid for it, we'll rate WB21 as follows:

Documentation ☆☆☆☆ Policy, directions, agreements, etc.. Are virtually non-existent.
Account Opening  ★★★ Easy open but identity must be verified online which is going to bother some people.
Security ★★★☆☆ Like most banks, the security sucks but a timeout features helps and you can aide this with SMS monitoring.
Ease of Use ★★★★ This is one of the more intuitive banking applications complete with Android and IOS apps. Its simple, clean, and fast.
Speed ★★★★★ Deposits and payments are the fastest of their kind*


Usability  ★★☆☆☆ Debit card and wires and no checks in or out make it difficult to use on its own for business but the virtual card earns 1 extra point
Safety ☆☆☆☆ There's nothing in the way of insurance (such as FDIC in the USA) and the organization is very new (10 months old).
Overall Score ★★★ 2.95 out of 5 stars. Slightly better than Fair.

They really do accept bitcoin deposits and whereas there are a couple downsides to this account (the biggest being irreversible bitcoin-to-cash conversions), for the most part WB21 is on the right track.

The offering isn't the best in the world, but its as close to available in the world as can be, they get a better than fair but not quite "good" yet.

This will change over time as more and more people get comfortable with them. Right now there is nothing in place to guarantee funds, so there is a risk, however Paypal doesn't have anything in place either and they hold billions in customer funds so with time, the comfort level should improve.

With bitcoin deposits available now, our assumption is that they'll be adding allot of customers to that 700,000 statistic over the next few months.

Verdict: Fair to Good. 3 stars (almost).




Report by dinbits
Image by dinbits.com staff




* Pending verification




Scoring system:


★★★★★ Excellent
★★★★ Good
★★★☆☆ Fair
★★☆☆☆ Poor
☆☆☆☆ Very Poor



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Post a Comment

  1. Their customer support is horrible and nearly non existent. They claim to have 800,000 account holders but a quick google search you will see clearly it is impossible for 800,000 people to be that quiet (you cant find out much about them or anyone talking about them).

    Sending funds: says they can send funds to aba / routing number accounts in the USA. They take your Bitcoin for the order, no funds are ever received. When asked why no payment was received they say "not currently doing these type of transactions" (But they took your Bitcoin and Bank info).

    Refunds: Since they just took your Bitcoin and Bank info for a transaction that they do not do they have a refund process right? No! After weeks they claim "The payment team is checking the transaction. I will get back to you shortly." A looping never ending response. Even if they refund your account there is no way to get the funds back to you. You are screwed if you are from the USA. Multiple requests to have the loaded funds returned back to Bitcoin are simply ignored.

    Debit cards: They don't have any like the site says. I will bet you $100 right now you will not find 1 person that has ever seen their debit card.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for contributing.

      We did not experience any issues with sending funds, however we sent funds with bitcoin to a WB21 account. Then later sent a wire to a United States bank from that WB21 account. There was no indication at the time that bitcoin could be sent directly to a bank account as you have explained here, but if the problem continues then it might be a good idea to contact Bitpay (www.bitpay.com) since they are the actual processor that converts the bitcoin into the deposited funds.

      We agree with your assessment in regards to Customer Service as the marks for Documentation and Safety reflect.

      In regards to debit cards, this is one area that was not reviewed, however people in the UK for example would likely be unable to obtain a card since they have not received their Payment Institution license with the Financial Conduct Authority FCA. GmbH Switzerland actually issues and handles the cards so its likely the countries this is available to is limited in those they operate (such as the UK).

      From what we uncovered, it looks as if the majority of the customer base was generated from the addition of WB21 Limited in Hong Kong. 800,000 customer from that region is a very small amount. They were around 250,000 customer worldwide in February of 2016, so the growth is steady, but the 800,000 number is actually not impressive at all.

      It may sound like a large number but to put that into perspective, Wells Fargo has 70 million customers compared to WB21's 0.8

      Again, thank you for the information we appreciate the data.

      Delete
    2. I'm having the same terrible experience with their support and the wire transfer its very difficult to succeed.:(

      Delete
  2. They also increased their fees without a notice but their website still showing a lower fees

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What was the fee you paid and for what reason? Good to know if they are playing tricks.

      Delete
  3. Now there is a minimum fee of $5 USD or 1% of the transferred amount will apply, before was only the 1%

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am curious which country you applied from: UK and US are inexistant, and, after a quick email, said they do not support these countries, so impossible to register.

    At least Antarcticans can still apply, so I am happy for them....

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sent a wire from wb21 which has not arrived yet (5 days). Sent an e-mail to customer support and will let you know if and when it arrives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello and thank you for contributing. Please do let us know if you have success with your wire. We are getting increasingly concerned with the number of complaints we've seen in regards to WB21 and may need to investigate this company further.

      Delete
  6. We also tried WB21 and after wire took more than 5 days and customer support coudnt tell us anything we decided not to use it anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for this review.. At first I came to know about WB21 via Forbes article..The I searched for WB21 review which brings me to this site.. After reading your review, I decided to give it a try. At first, I've little afraid of WB21 because of some negative reviews. Anyway I tried it with little amount 10$ and within 2 hours it credited to the receiver account. And also fees is good (1%) when comparing with paypal and neteller. I'm now regularly using their service..
    After using their service, I relaise that 'never take decisions based on others words". Just give a try...You'll surely like it as I do!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Horrible support service and scam.

    I executed a wire back in March (3 months ago!), and apparently, WB21 made the mistake of swapping USD for EUR (this was told to by the recipient of the wire.. who never received it). Consequently, the recipient, asked for a MT 103 SWIFT confirmation.

    I've sent countless emails, left voice messages, etc. At the beginning, they (WB21) would answer the emails, apologizing and asking for patience, but now they're silent about a wire transfer executed back in March!

    Help spread the news and avoid WB21!

    ReplyDelete

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