- Visa CEO Al Kelly highlighted the firm’s crypto commitment, stating that it will extensively move into the digital currency space.
- The payments giant will position itself to undertake five critical areas related to digital assets.
- The firm has been in discussions with central banks about their development of sovereign digital currencies.
Payments giant Visa is increasingly embracing cryptocurrencies, having recently begun settlements of stablecoin USD Coin transactions since March.
Visa leaning into crypto in a ‘very big way’
During an earnings call on April 27, Visa CEO Al Kelly stated that the firm is looking at five individual aspects in crypto going forward. The few key elements include the spending and purchase of cryptocurrencies, crypto-related APIs for financial firms, settlements via stablecoins, and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Kelly added:
So our focus is on five different opportunities that we see in this space, and I would say that we are leaning into [it] in a very big way and are extremely well-positioned.
In late March, Visa allowed the use of USDC to settle transactions on its payment network, as the latest indication of the growing acceptance of digital currencies in the traditional financial industry. Partnering with Crypto.com, the payments giant launched the pilot program and aims to offer the option to more partners later this year.
Demand from consumers across the world to be able to hold and use cryptocurrencies continues to grow. Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa, said:
We’re seeing demand from our clients to be able to build products that provide that access for consumers.
Visa could play a key role in developing CBDC
In addition to including cryptocurrencies into the firm’s agenda, Visa is also in discussion with central banks and suggested that the payment giant could play a role in the CBDC development process.
Seeing that central banks would need to be critical of the security of these digital currencies, Visa proposed that it could add value with the firm’s long track record. Kelly explained:
We're talking to central banks about the criticality of public/private partnership and in particular the criticality of acceptance because for these central bank digital currencies to have value, they're going to have to both be secure in the minds of consumers, and that's something we have a long track record with and could help.
Visa published a paper in late 2020 outlining the potential offline payments solution for CBDCs. Most CBDC solutions seek to enable offline payments, including China’s digital yuan.