The line between traditional finance and the cryptocurrency space gets more blurred by the day as conventional payment platforms move to incorporate cryptocurrencies. In line with this, payment processing giant Visa recently revealed that its users had spent an estimated $1 billion on transactions in the first half of 2021 alone via its crypto-linked cards.
According to Visa, only a fraction of this amount was spent by the customer in 2019 and 2020. This comes as a testament that cryptocurrencies are starting to live up to Satoshi Nakomoto’s ultimate goal of enabling an electronic means of payment.
“We are doing a lot to create an ecosystem that makes the cryptocurrency more usable and more like any other currency,” says Vasant Prabhu, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Visa.
Visa Settled $1 Billion Crypto Transactions
Visa moves toward cryptocurrency have been brewing for some time now. Reaching a milestone of $1 billion is a pointer that the company is on the right track to meeting the market demand of customers who are ready to spend their cryptocurrency on goods and services.
“We see increasing demand from consumers across the world to be able to access, hold and use digital currencies, and we’re seeing demand from our clients to be able to build products that provide that access for consumers,” Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa, said.
Visa announced support for crypto settlement in March 2021, in partnership with Circle, Crypto.com, and Anchorage. It chose to use USD Coin, a stablecoin pegged 1 -1 with the US dollar, as the settlement currency that would enable customers to spend their cryptocurrencies without worrying about price fluctuations that stem from the inherent volatility of major cryptocurrencies.
As of recently, the payment giant has extended its partnership to other cryptocurrency companies, including BlockFi, Coinbase, etc., to make the crypto payment service available for other wallets. The holders of the crypto-linked cards can spend their digital currency in over 70 million stores globally that support Visa payments.
Crypto is Headed for Mainstream Acceptance
There’s unarguably a growing demand for digital currencies as a payment method, and this is evident with the $1 billion transactions facilitated through Visa crypto-cards alone. The demand has been on the rise since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Recent research from Visa’s rival Mastercard showed that about 93 percent of North American residents are willing to use digital currencies or biometrics, QR code systems, and other similar upcoming payment technology, in the coming years.
Notably, the pandemic accelerated a global shift to digital payment alternatives, especially cryptocurrency. Visa’s crypto-linked card program is a step in the right direction to onboard more people to cryptocurrency, which will eventually raise crypto to mainstream acceptance.
Mastercard also has plans to launch a card with top cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, which is owned by the Winklevoss twins. With the card, interested persons will be able to earn crypto rewards. However, cardholders will not have access to their crypto wallets on the site.
Visa Has No Plan to Hold Crypto
Despite the $1 billion milestone transaction settled in cryptocurrency, the payment giant still has no plans to invest in cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin (BTC), like some top companies like MicroStrategy, Tesla, etc.
Speaking on this, the Chief Financial Officer disclosed that Visa currently does not hold any form of cryptocurrency on its balance sheet. He added that the company would only hold currencies needed to operate its business. That is, “…currencies that we get paid in, or we pay people in. That tends to be the dollar, euro, and pound. So we don’t have plans to hold cryptocurrency because it’s not typically the way we get paid or the way we pay people.”