This development has huge implications for the bitcoin community. For most of bitcoin’s history, converting funds into and out of fiat has been a slow, thorny process involving money transfers between banks. Wire transfers can take more than a week to clear, and it’s not uncommon for some banks to decline the transactions altogether. Given the volatility of bitcoin prices, a slow transaction can effectively result in the loss of hundreds of dollars per bitcoin.
The BTC-e transactions will allow funds to transfer in 2-4 business days, and deposit directly to the credit card balance. The transaction fee is currently set at 5%. The transaction appears on credit card statements as an affiliate payment.
BTC-e did note that some Visa or MasterCard associated systems are not eligible for the program, such as those that do not allow a positive balance. Maestro, VISA Electron and cards issued by PayPal are also not eligible for BTC-e transactions.
It’s unclear if this is an experimental payment system specific to BTC-e, or if the exchange is simply the first company to integrate the payment scheme. Should it prove successful for both the customers and the credit card companies, expect to see many other bitcoin-related businesses offering the service in coming months.