Visa CEO Al Kelly says the payments giant is moving into crypto in a ‘very big way’.
Visa announced that they are working with central banks on policy matters, and they are advocating for public-private partnerships to support CBDCs, a model that many digital currency experts believe will be the emerging model; particularly given the complex work required to digitize currency in different nations.
Visa has filed a patent application for blockchain-related tech that would support connections between financial institutions and central banks.
“Central bank digital currencies could end up being quite valuable in countries where the infrastructure is unavailable or limited,” said Al Kelly, chairman, and CEO of Visa, during the company’s earnings call, estimating there’s an addressable market of more than 1.7 billion consumers that could be reached and suggesting there’s space to expand its work with government clients.
For the quarter ending March 31, Visa reported net income of $3 billion, or $1.38 per share, slightly down from $3.1 billion, or $1.39 per share, the same period in 2020. But they expect things to pick back up from the pandemic’s lows.
Crypto gold rush
Kelly discussed how Visa is engaging the crypto space, which he divided into investment assets — or “digital gold” as he called it — and digital currencies, which he said are more like traditional payments.
Visa is positioned to quickly convert these investments for funds that are usable across the company’s 80 million merchant network. “It’s the core of what we do, enabling consumers to make a purchase,” Kelly said, adding Visa is adding partnerships with crypto exchanges such as Coinbase, Crypto.com, and Bitpanda. Visa has also upgraded its infrastructure to allow settlement in stablecoins.
“We are leaning into this in a big way,” Kelly said.
Visa CEO Al Kelly
So our focus is on five different opportunities that we see in this space and I would say that this is space that we are leaning into in a very big way and I think are extremely well-positioned. We’re talking to central banks about the criticality of public/private partnership and in particular the criticality of acceptance because for these central bank digital currencies to have value, they’re going to have to both be secure in the minds of consumers, and that’s something we have a long track record with and could help. And then secondly, obviously they have to have some form of utility.