Why Galileo’s new cryptocurrency API doesn’t need customers—for now

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Processing firm Galileo has built an API to bridge the gap between cryptocurrencies and mainstream payments, an area where a handful of other providers are experimenting. Large banks and card networks continue to keep their distance.

“Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin currently are in a speculative state, with spiking prices and bubbles bursting, but think of where other new technologies were when they started—like the internet was in 1994. We want to be there if it evolves into something important,” said Clay Wilkes, Galileo’s founder and CEO.

Galileo structured the API, which launched Wednesday, so issuers and general fintech firms may adapt it to enable consumers to deposit funds denominated in cryptocurrencies to payment card accounts in real time for immediate spending, Wilkes said.

Salt Lake City-based Galileo has a payment card-issuing relationship with Metropolitan Commercial Bank in New York, enabling the creation of accounts with the API that are capable of receiving direct deposits in U.S. dollars, with the option to allocate those funds to cryptocurrencies via a mobile app, according to Wilkes.

Though no one has announced plans for a product derived from the API service yet, several companies have expressed interest, with potential users ranging from ICOs to various cryptocurrency exchanges, wallet providers and program managers, Wilkes said.

“Anyone in the fintech world who wants to move money into and out of cryptographic currencies or attach to a separate wallet is a prospect,” Wilkes said, noting that Galileo sees its latest API as a welcome mat for new types of players entering the financial services ecosystem.

“No one knows where cryptocurrencies are going right now, but we want to be positioned in case it becomes relevant five years from now,” Wilkes said.

Galileo, established in 2000, handled processing for Walgreens’ Balance Financial Prepaid Mastercard when it launched in 2013.

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