Visa launches crypto consulting services in push for mainstream adoption

The Visa logo seen displayed on a smartphone with a bitcoin logo in the background.

Visa is launching new consulting and advisory services to help its clients navigate the world of cryptocurrencies.

The payments processor said Wednesday its crypto advisory practice, housed within its consulting and analytics division, will offer advice to financial institutions, retailers and other firms on everything from rolling out crypto features to exploring non-fungible tokens.

Visa named American bank UMB as a client that’s already using its crypto advisory services.

The move marks Visa’s latest attempt to push deeper into the crypto industry. From Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021, the company processed $3.5 billion in digital currency transactions through its crypto-linked card schemes, according to Nikola Plecas, Visa’s European crypto lead.

“Some of these leading exchanges have millions or, in some instances, tens of millions of users,” Plecas told CNBC, adding that the company allows users to spend their crypto at over 80 million merchants.

The company is also developing products geared toward stablecoins, virtual tokens tied to the value of sovereign currencies, typically the dollar and central bank-issued digital currencies.

Visa hopes its crypto consultancy can help further mainstream adoption of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Like rival Mastercard, the credit card giant sees cryptocurrencies as a key growth opportunity as it expands into areas beyond card payments.

Major payment networks have faced increased competition from an influx of new financial upstarts in recent years. Emerging trends such as open banking, which aims to open up consumer bank information and payment capabilities to rival fintechs, threaten to disrupt their business model.

Meanwhile, Visa is also under pressure from large tech companies. Amazon last month said it would stop accepting Visa credit cards in the UK due to the company’s “high fees.” The e-commerce titan has taken similar steps against Visa in Australia and Singapore.

“Crypto for us is a huge new vertical and growth opportunity. And we will be continuing to focus on growing this business moving forward,” Plecas said.

A study released by Visa Wednesday said 94% of people now have some level of awareness of crypto, while nearly one third have used it as an investment or medium of exchange.

More than 6,000 people globally were surveyed for the research, which was conducted in partnership with marketing services firm LRW.

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