Visa CEO Alfred Kelly says the company is preparing its payment network to handle all crypto assets.
When talking with analysts, Kelly said the company would view the cryptocurrency market as two distinct segments:
- traditional cryptocurrencies such as BTC and ETH; and
- digital currencies backed by fiat currencies, including stablecoins and central bank digital currencies.
“In this space, we see ways that we can add differentiated value to the ecosystem. And we believe we have a unique opportunity to make cryptocurrencies safer, more useful and applicable for payments through our global presence, our partner approach and our trusted brand, ”Kelly told analysts.
In the first segment, Visa will work with “wallets and exchanges so that users can buy these currencies using their Visa credentials, or withdraw money to Visa credentials to make purchases in fiat currency from any of the 70 million merchants where Visa accepts global payments.”
This is similar to a card scheme for connecting to closed loop wallets such as Line Pay and Paytm. Visa has already struck card deals with about 35 organizations in cryptocurrency markets such as BitPanda and BlockFi. According to Kelly, this relationship with the wallet “represents the potential for over 50 million Visa credentials.”
Looking ahead, Visa will also focus on the upcoming stablecoins that can be used as a traditional and globally recognized medium of exchange, including coins issued by banks and central bank digital currencies.
“We think of digital currencies running on public blockchains as complementary networks like RTP or ACH networks,” says Kelly. “But we see them as part of our networking strategy.”
In December 2020, Visa published a white paper outlining a new approach to offline point-to-point payments between two devices, touting it as a means for central banks to replicate physical cash exchanges using digital currencies.
Card rival Mastercard has also dived into the unchartered water, creating a virtual testing platform to help central banks evaluate and study national digital currencies.
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