By Noor Zainab Hussain
(Reuters) – Visa Inc, the world’s largest payment processor, on Wednesday launched a global crypto advisory service for clients such as banks and also merchants, as the adoption of digital currencies gains steam.
The move by Visa comes against the backdrop of unprecedented investor demand for crypto services and the company’s latest offering is geared towards financial institutions eager to attract or retain customers with a crypto offering, retailers looking to delve into non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or central banks exploring digital currencies.
Visa’s services include educating institutions about cryptocurrencies, allowing clients to use the payment processor’s network for digital offerings, and helping manage backend operations.
“We came to Visa to learn more about crypto and stablecoins and the use cases that are most relevant for our retail and commercial business lines,” said Uma Wilson, executive vice president at UMB Bank, a regional U.S. lender.
A new global study by Visa showed nearly 40% of crypto owners surveyed would be likely or very likely to switch their primary bank to one that offers crypto-related products in the next 12 months.
Visa currently uses its network to allow buying, selling, and custody of digital currency. It also offers a credit card that lets users earn bitcoin on purchases and also allows the use of USD Coin, a stablecoin cryptocurrency whose value is pegged directly to the U.S. dollar, to settle transactions on its payment network.
However, for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to be used as a medium of exchange, price stability is needed, Visa’s Chief Financial Officer Vasant Prabhu told Reuters.
“If the price is going to fluctuate from $60,000 to $50,000 in a few hours, it’s a very difficult thing for a merchant to accept (bitcoin) as a currency,” Prabhu said.
“I don’t know if cryptocurrencies like bitcoin will ever be a medium of exchange. Stablecoins will,” he said, adding that Visa would facilitate such transactions when the time was right.
(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)