Visa CEO Alfred Kelly says the card scheme is preparing its payments network to handle a full range of cryptocurrency assets. Visa, a one-time enemy of the bitcoin and cryptocurrency community, is fast becoming one of bitcoin’s biggest cheerleaders.
Bitcoin and crypto custodian Anchorage, last month becoming the first U.S. national “digital asset bank” after it was granted approval for a national trust charter from the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), will hold the bitcoin and cryptocurrencies on behalf of Visa’s clients.
It’s understood banks will be able to allow their users to withdraw and self-custody their bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
After partnering with 35 various bitcoin and cryptocurrency platforms in recent years, the credit card company has announced it plans to help banks roll out bitcoin and cryptocurrency buying and trading services with a Visa crypto software program, set to launch later this year.
In an earnings call with analysts, Kelly says the company will treat the crytocurrency market as two distinct segments: traditional cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and Ether; and fiat-backed digital currencies including stablecoins and central bank digital currencies.
Visa rival PayPal , which sparked the latest bitcoin price bull run when it announced plans to allow its 346 million users to buy and spend bitcoin and a handful of other major cryptocurrencies in October, attracted criticism for preventing people from moving their cryptocurrencies off its platform.
For the first segment, Visa will work with “wallets and exchanges to enable users to purchase these currencies using their Visa credentials or to cash out onto a Visa credential to make a fiat purchase at any of the 70 million merchants where Visa’s accepted globally”.
This is similar to card scheme’s to connect with closed loop wallets such as Line Pay and Paytm
Visa has already struck card deals with some 35 organisations in the crypto-markets, such as BitPanda and BlockFi. According to Kelly, these wallet relationships “represent the potential for more than 50 million Visa credentials.”
Looking to the future, Visa will also train its focus on upcoming stablecoins that can be handled as a traditional and globally accepted mean of exchange, including bank-issued coins and central bank digital currencies.
The recent bitcoin price boom has catapulted bitcoin and cryptocurrencies back to the forefront of global consciousness, helped by a return of paid-for celebrity crypto endorsements from the likes of actress Lindsay Lohan.
Earlier this week, Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive of electric car-maker Tesla, made headlines when he said bitcoin is on “the verge” of breaking into traditional finance.