The payments giant is bullish around stable currencies, but it may ignore the potential of decentralized financing
During a first-quarter Visa earnings call Thursday, Chairman and CEO Al Kelly dedicated a portion of his comments to reaffirm the financial giant’s commitment to cryptocurrency payments and projects, as well as an explanation of “how Visa thinks about cryptocurrencies in general and our approach.”
The financial services company, with assets of more than $ 72 billion as of 2019, has been aggressively pushing cryptocurrency payments recently, including via partnerships that enable crypto debit cards, and Zap Invest, a cryptocurrency payments startup. Additionally, Visa earlier this month was forced to abandon a $ 5.3 billion acquisition of the Blade payments platform for antitrust reasons.
Thursday’s comments make clear that Visa still has long-term plans in the sector, and that the company believes it is in an excellent position to pursue those plans. According to the transcript of the call, “We believe we are in a unique position to help make cryptocurrencies more secure, useful, and applicable to payments,” thanks to Visa size, integration, and brand penetration.
Ethereum advocates and the exponential growth of decentralized financing might be surprised from the company’s somewhat outdated view of smart contract platforms.
Kelly said Visa groups blockchain assets into two categories: “cryptocurrencies that represent new assets like Bitcoin” and act as a store of value, and “stablecoins directly supported by existing fiat currencies” that are more routinely used for payments.
For currencies that act as a store of value, Kelly said Visa will act as a leader of the fiat projects:
“Our strategy here is to work with wallets and exchanges to enable users to purchase these currencies using their Visa credentials or cash out from our Visa credentials to make a purchase at any of the 70 million merchants where Visa is accepted globally.”
However, when it comes to stablecoins, Visa is taking a much more bullish stance, describing cryptocurrencies as “an emerging payment innovation that can be used in global trade, like any other fiat currency,” and said public blockchain networks can be seen as similar payment poles for RPT networks. Or ACH.