SoFi CEO dives deeper into crypto with bitcoin, Ethereum rewards

Social Finance is edging deeper into cryptocurrencies, allowing its customers to redeem rewards earned through the company’s app for bitcoin or Ethereum.

Starting Thursday, clients can apply their 2% cash-back rewards on the SoFi credit card toward the two cryptocurrencies, Chief Executive Anthony Noto said in a phone interview. The crypto program is among the first to be made available in the industry.

Anthony Noto, chief executive of Social Finance.

“There’s a thirst for more and more innovation that we continue to hear from our members,” Noto said. “The No. 1 thing they wanted was stocks and fractional shares. The No. 2 thing they wanted was cryptocurrency.”

SoFi’s clients are typically able to use rewards for offerings that improve their financial health or introduce them to new features on the site, such as signing up for credit-score monitoring or sending money to friends through the app. Clients can also continue to redeem rewards in cash or put them toward SoFi Invest products.

SoFi plans to extend its investing operation to include 15 more cryptos in the following week.

Noto was a technology dealmaker at Goldman Sachs Group and an executive at Twitter before joining SoFi. He likens the rise of bitcoin to Amazon and eBay in the late 1990s, when those companies were still highly volatile investments.

Bitcoin “has already established itself as an incredibly valuable asset,” Noto said. “It should be a small percentage of assets because it is very volatile. We put a warning label that says it’s an unproven asset.”

SoFi is joining a wave of credit card companies enticing a new generation with crypto rewards. Mastercard Inc. said this week it was pairing with Gemini, the digital-asset exchange run by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, while Visa said in December that it was partnering with the startup BlockFi for a specific card that offers bitcoin rewards of 1.5% of purchases.

Mastercard is allowing cardholders to earn as much as 3% back toward bitcoin or more than 30 cryptocurrencies on Gemini’s platform.

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