Visa, a payments company, has announced that it is continuing with its cryptocurrency plans despite reports suggesting otherwise during the bear market. The Head of Crypto at Visa, Cuy Sheffield, confirmed in a series of tweets that a Reuters story claiming Visa and Mastercard were slowing down their crypto push was inaccurate. Visa believes that fiat-backed digital currencies running on public blockchains can play an essential role in the payments ecosystem, despite the challenges and uncertainty in the crypto industry.
Visa has been collaborating with the crypto space for some time, but things have slowed down recently. In November, the company terminated its global credit card agreements with FTX, a failed crypto exchange, which had planned to roll out cards to 40 new countries as part of a long-term global partnership. However, Visa pulled the plug when FTX went bankrupt in a highly publicized crash, and now prosecutors allege that the firm commingled customer funds, while its ex-boss Sam Bankman-Fried faces 12 criminal charges.
Moreover, Visa filed new trademark applications in October that hinted at possible plans for a crypto wallet and a metaverse product. Crypto wallets like MetaMask or Phantom are used to store digital assets like Bitcoin or Ethereum and make payments, while the metaverse refers to a shared virtual world online that has become a focal point for various crypto and fintech companies.
The collapse of the mega exchange FTX and the contagion that followed are compelling US lawmakers and regulators to develop new ways of regulating space. However, a Visa spokesperson told Decrypt that recent high-profile failures in the crypto industry are an important reminder that mainstream payments and financial services still have a long way to go before they adopt crypto. Despite this, Visa remains focused on developing its core competencies in Web3 infrastructure layers and evaluating the blockchain protocols that drive crypto development.
- Sheffield, a representative for Visa, has contradicted a Reuters article that suggested Visa and Mastercard were reducing their efforts in the crypto space, emphasizing that the report was not true about Visa. Additionally, Sheffield stated that Visa believes that fiat-backed digital currencies running on public blockchains have significant potential to play a role in the payments ecosystem, despite the challenges and uncertainties in the crypto ecosystem
- Visa began offering crypto-linked Visa cards in partnership with several major exchanges in the first half of 2021. Before the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX in November, Visa had planned to introduce the cards to 40 new countries as part of a long-term global collaboration with Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX.
- In October, Visa filed two trademark applications indicating that they planned to launch a metaverse-related product and a crypto wallet designed to store digital assets and facilitate payments. These filings indicated that Visa’s involvement in the cryptocurrency space was not waning and that the company was still keen to develop products in this space.
- According to Sheffield, Visa continues to partner with crypto companies to enhance transactions between fiat currency and cryptocurrency, as well as to create products that allow compliant and convenient digital payments. This means that Visa’s involvement in the cryptocurrency space is not limited to their Visa cards and trademark applications; they are still interested in exploring and developing other products and services.
- Despite Bitcoin prices falling since Visa launched its crypto-linked Visa cards in 2021, and despite high-profile collapses such as that of FTX, Bitcoin has recently surpassed Visa in market capitalization for the third time in history. This fact indicates that even though Visa is making efforts in the cryptocurrency space, it is not yet the dominant player. However, Visa’s continued involvement in the cryptocurrency space suggests that they are not planning to cede their position to Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency anytime soon.