While stablecoins and central bank digital currency (CBDCs) have been the talk of the town for quite some time of late – these have shot to the limelight as existing payment heavyweights have now doubled down to use this technology to further their businesses. One of the biggest, or rather arguably the biggest player in the payments business – Visa has been investing in the space to stay ahead of the game. The chief executive of the credit card giant has remained confident that blockchain-powered solutions can be integrated into its offerings to power the next generation of payments.
During the annual stockholder meeting on 24 January, outgoing CEO of Visa Al Kelly went on record to briefly outline the firm’s plans for CBDCs and private stablecoins. According to a report by San Francisco Business Times, Kelly said:
“It’s very early days, but we continue to believe that stablecoins and Central Bank Digital Currencies have the potential to play a meaningful role in the payments space, and we have a number of initiatives underway.”
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He also went on to say that there has been an immaterial amount of investments on the part of the firm in crypto funds and companies as they seek to invest in the overall payment ecosystem and its advancement. To reassure investors in that aspect, Kelly also confirmed that Visa’s balance sheet has not been impacted by some of the high profile failures and collapses the crypto world has seen in the past year.
“We’ve had no credit losses related to these failures […] In everything we do, please know that we’re extremely focused on maintaining the integrity of Visa’s payment system and the payment system in totality and of course, the reputation of our brand standing for trust.”
Visa has been one of the most prominent traditional finance companies that has been pretty active in the blockchain space too and has worked on a number of crypto-related initiatives in the past. So much so, that its research team began working on a blockchain interoperability project on September 2021, aptly named the ‘Universal Payment Channel Initiative’. The project was designed to establish a ‘network for networks’ for CBDCs and private stablecoins to pass through various payment channels.
However, in the past year or so, Visa hadn’t provided any updates on the UPC. But more recently, on 20 December 2022 – the payment’s giant announced that it was chalking up a plan to allow automated bills to be paid directly out of a customer’s Ethereum-powered wallet!
Visa has also rolled out several ‘zer fee’ crypto debit cards recently, including two in partnerships with FTX and Blockchain.com. The one with FTX one has now been terminated, however post the collapse of the exchange back in early November 2022.
According to a CoinTelegraph article, Visa’s annual 2022 report included data only until 30 September, 2022 – about five weeks before the FTX crypto exchange collapsed – more information could possibly be released in Visa’s Q1 earnings call that is slated to happen on 26 January.
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As Al Kelly is slated to move out of the position of CEO, Visa President Ryan McInerney is slated to take over the role in February 2023 – and from the looks of it, McInerney appears to be a strong proponent of the blockchain based payments vision that was led by Kelly too.
In an interview with Fortune in November 2022, McInerney mentioned in the interview that Visa still has “$14 trillion of cash out there being spent by consumers that can be digitized” and that they’re continuing to explore where crypto payments may be best leveraged.
Sourced from CoinTelegraph.