Visa, one of the largest payments network in the world with usage at over 70 million merchant outlets worldwide, has expressed its interest to enter the crypto space and work directly with wallets and exchanges as an off and on-ramp service.
Speaking during the Q1, 2021 earnings call, Alfred Kelly, Chairman and CEO, Visa, said there is growing interest in digital currencies and Visa has a differentiated approach to it.
“In this space, we see ways that we can add differentiated value to the ecosystem. And we believe that we are uniquely positioned to help make cryptocurrencies more safe, useful and applicable for payments through our global presence, our partnership approach and our trusted brand.”
– CEO, VISA
According to the call transcript, Visa is looking at the crypto ecosystem in two segments:
Crytocurrencies representing new assets such as Bitcoin
Stablecoins directly backed by exisiting fiat currencies (such as USDT)
Speaking about bitcoin and related assets, Kelly said:
“We see all currencies in that first segment as digital gold. They are predominantly held as assets that are not used as a form of payment in a significant way at this point.
Our strategy here is to work with wallets and exchanges to enable users to purchase these currencies using their Visa credentials or to cash out onto our Visa credential to make a fiat purchase at any of the 70 million merchants where Visa is accepted globally.”
– CEO, VISA
Visa is looking at digital currencies running on public blockchains as simply additional networks that can be part of its ‘network of networks strategy’ similar to RTP or ACH networks.
The CEO also revealed that the company is already working with 35 of the leading digital currency platforms and wallets with a ‘potential for more than 50 million Visa credentials.’
Reiterating the company’s commitment to be the leading network in digital currencies, Kelly said:
“And it goes without saying, to the extent a specific digital currency becomes a recognized means of exchange, there’s no reason why we cannot add it to our network, which already supports over 160 currencies (fiat) today.”
– CEO, VISA
Interestingly, Kelly highlighted that a key future growth area for Visa lies in cross-border P2P and remittance with efforts to expand remittance in Africa and African corridors via the Visa Direct service.
UPDATE: Visa has partnered with First Boulevard – a neobank focused on financial empowerment in the black community – to pilot its suite of crypto APIs allowing the bank’s customers to purchase, custody, and trade digital assets held by digital asset bank, Anchorage.