Visa CEO and chairman Alfred Kelly announced the plan in an earnings call last week. Kelly noted that not only would Visa allow buying and selling of cryptocurrencies on its platform, but also that the company was “uniquely positioned” to do so, and to do so safely and securely.
Visa’s plan is to divide digital assets into two categories: cryptocurrencies and digital currencies. Cryptocurrencies, per Kelly, represent the “digital gold” of the digital asset market insofar as they are not typically used as a form of payment. For these assets, Visa plans to work with wallets and exchanges to allow users to buy these currencies using their Visa credentials. Visa also plans to enable users to cash out of their cryptocurrencies onto a Visa credential to make fiat-money purchases wherever Visa is accepted globally.
With regard to digital currencies, Visa defines these assets as “fiat-backed digital currencies including stablecoins and central bank digital currencies.” These assets, per Kelly, could find use cases in global commerce “much like any other fiat currency” and could run on public blockchains as additional networks much like RTP and ACH rails.
Kelly noted that Visa already has a strong relationship with 35 digital currency platforms and wallets, including BlockFi and BitPanda. These partnerships, Visa claimed, represent potentially more than 50 million Visa credentials – a significant size advantage over the company’s rivals. “And it goes without saying,” Kelly added, “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.”
Visa’s positive news on cryptocurrencies comes on the heels of the company’s announcement that its planned $5.3 billion acquisition of fintech infrastructure provider and fellow Finovate alum Plaid is now off the table. Visa is an alum of both our Finovate conferences, making its Finovate debut at FinovateSpring ten years ago, and participating in our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley, four years later in 2014.