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Visa CEO calls Bitcoin ‘digital gold’, outlines strategy to integrate crypto

  • Bitcoin serves as a reserve asset and could be integrated into Visa’s payments network.
  • CEO Alfred Kelly outlines a strategy to integrate Bitcoin (BTC), stablecoins and CBDCs into the payment network.

Payments giant Visa CEO Alfred Kelly referenced Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and digital assets in his Q1 2021 earnings call. Kelly was optimistic about the future integration of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into the VISA payments network, which, as he said, supports more than 160 currencies.

Visa’s CEO made a distinction between digital assets. According to him, there are those that have begun to take on the role of a safe-haven asset and those being used a currency. Bitcoin, particularly, has strongly pushed the safe-haven thesis over the past few months, as Kelly stated:

We see all (cryptocurrencies) as digital gold. They are predominantly held as assets that are not used as a form of payment in a significant way at this point.

Visa plans to enable global purchases with Bitcoin

On the possible integration of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into the Visa network, Kelly said that this could happen when “a particular digital currency becomes a recognized medium of exchange.” With this in mind, the Visa executive explained that they have about 35 collaborations with exchanges and crypto service providers such as Crypto.com, BlockFi, Bitpanda and Fold.

Visa’s strategy is to make cryptocurrency payments “safer” and increase their adoption. Through its collaborations, Visa aims to enable its users to buy cryptocurrencies and make purchases with this asset class, especially stablecoins and future central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), as Visa’s CEO added:

(…) stablecoins and central bank digital currencies, these are an emerging payments innovation that could have the potential to be used for global commerce, much like any other fiat currency. We think of digital currencies running on public blockchains as additional networks (…). We see them as part of our network of networks strategy. We are the clear leader in this space.

As reported by CNF, the payments giant has long made efforts to incorporate Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies into its payment network. Visa currently has more than 61 million merchants connected to its global network and has set out a roadmap to give them access to cryptocurrencies using its platform.

One of the biggest obstacles delaying the integration of these assets into Visa’s network is regulations in the United States. The company stated in July last year that it has been working with regulators, lawmakers, and other organizations to promote “the dialogue and understanding” of cryptocurrencies. At the time, Visa claimed the following in a statement:

We believe that digital currencies have the potential to extend the value of digital payments to a greater number of people and places. As such, we want to help shape and support the role they play in the future of money.

About Author

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Reynaldo Marquez has closely followed the growth of Bitcoin and blockchain technology since 2016. He has since worked as a columnist on crypto coins covering advances, falls and rises in the market, bifurcations and developments. He believes that crypto coins and blockchain technology will have a great positive impact on people's lives.

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