The payments giant might add cryptocurrencies to its expansive global network.
Bitcoin on VISA?
Payments giant VISA could soon add Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to its expansive payments network, CEO Alfred Kelly said during an online appearance last week.
“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 today,” said Kelly.
However, despite the words, Kelly is not entirely convinced of the broader use case of cryptocurrencies so far. The payments veteran said that while Bitcoin was among the most widely used and known cryptocurrencies, its function was more like “digital gold” and that it was “not used as a form of payment in a significant way at this point.”
Cryptocurrency services are, so far, allowed only for exchanges and wallet providers who receive fiat from a customer and exchange it to crypto on their end. This means that whenever a customer uses a “crypto card” at a retail merchant, the actual crypto itself does not interact with the VISA network. Instead, the exchange sells an equivalent amount of crypto, and VISA processes the payment in fiat.
But Kelly says that could soon change. In a corporate meeting during the firm’s first earnings call of 20201, he said that VISA could help make the crypto market more safe, secure, and useful to its millions of customers across the globe.
He added in the regard:
“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.”
Kelly acknowledged the rise of stablecoins—cryptocurrencies which maintain a stable value and are pegged on a 1:1 basis with fiat currencies, such as the US Dollar—and said that such tokens were being developed to use in global commerce.
VISA already supports over 35 leading and high-profile cryptocurrency platforms, wallets, and crypto cards. These include Crypto.com, BlockFi, Fold, and BitPanda—and said to reach over 50 million VISA customers.
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