We have partnered with more than 50 crypto platforms to help them launch Visa cards that make it easy and seamless to spend from a crypto balance anywhere Visa is accepted. Customers of Visa spent on cryptocurrencies about $1billion in the first half of 2021
Interest for digital currencies from consumers and businesses grows worldwide. It’s reported that at least 14 million users are new crypto market participants as of 2021. Although cryptocurrencies are not accepted in Serbia as a legal payment method, this type of digital payment has the potential to be used in the future. For the November issue of the Diplomacy&Commerce magazine, we talked with Akshay Chopra, Vice president and Head of Innovation and Product Design at Visa CEMEA region about the digital payment’s leader experience with cryptocurrencies and how safe are they.
Why Visa decided to support digital currencies?
Visa facilitates payments in all different currencies all across the world. The importance of cryptocurrencies has grown in recent months and it is a massive trend which cannot be ignored by any organization or individual. In order to continue to improve all forms of money movement, about a year ago we shared our strategy for supporting digital currencies. We are focused on delivering the greatest value to people, businesses and economies everywhere, so this is a natural step in responding to market needs. The extension of our network of network strategy is also important change because it serves as the bridge between the crypto ecosystem and our global network of 70 million merchants and 10 thousand financial institutions.
“We will continue to advance responsible innovations that maintain the trust and security of the global payment ecosystem”
Moreover, we have partnered with more than 50 crypto platforms to help them launch Visa cards that make it easy and seamless to spend from a crypto balance anywhere Visa is accepted. Customers of Visa spent on cryptocurrencies about $1billion in the first half of 2021. So many people said that they want cryptocurrency and it is easy for them to do it with Visa linked-cards in a secure way. This is a small portion of total spend on Visa cards, but having in mind these programs exist only a year, it is an indication that crypto-assets are entering a new era.
How can we buy and spend crypto?
Although getting a Visa crypto linked card in Serbia will most likely happen at some point in the future, let me share experience from the US for example. If you want to buy bitcoin on an exchange, such as FTX, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world, the easiest way to do so is with your Visa card, which serves as an on-ramp to get funds into a crypto exchange. In the meantime, the value of your bitcoin may go up and then you want to cash out a portion of your investment to pay for a new car. With the FTX Visa card, that is easy. Through a crypto-linked card program, you can use that stablecoin balance to buy groceries or take your family out to dinner, without having to send your earnings to a traditional bank account. All the conversions happen instantly, in-store or online, so we can say that it is as easy as a standard Visa transaction.
And what is also important – thanks to the magic of „tap and go” principles, the store where you bought something does not need to change anything about how it accepts payments, and they are paid in their preferred currency, as any other Visa transaction.
Are crypto-linked Visa cards changing how people use crypto for payments?
These card programs are still relatively new, but we are tracking several trends that suggest they are gaining traction. It is important to highlight that the number of consumers interested in owning crypto assets is growing. But the number of merchants directly accepting payments on blockchains is quite small, so it is difficult today to use your crypto to buy goods or services on the blockchain.
Having a Visa card linked to your crypto balance adds significant utility because you will be able to access that liquidity, to fund purchases and manage expenses, and to do so instantly and seamlessly
What is the potential of cryptocurrency in the SEE region?
Regarding the development and acceptance of cryptocurrencies, this is the question that depends from market to market. Our approach depends on treatments of this topic in different markets and how each regulator handles it. We are always doing deep-in researches, to see what regulators and central banks are doing in the domestic market. For example, Balkan is in the middle of this process of accepting crypto. But it takes time and the general acceptance of digital currencies to be able to view their potential locally.
As a participant of the recently held Belgrade Economic Forum, you spoke about the security of cryptocurrencies. How do you comment that cryptocurrency is an appealing method of payment to hackers, particularly for ransomware attacks and how is it possible to overcome this challenge?
Hacked exchanges are often mentioned in the context of cryptocurrencies, but we are building a security infrastructure, constantly improving it and insisting upon the same cybersecurity standards that we always have.
“We are always doing deep-in researches, to see what regulators and central banks are doing in the domestic market”
It is interesting that cyber threats against crypto wallets and users is still remarkably similar to cyber threats against other digital platforms, so we can use our experience and existing artificial intelligence to overcome it and we manage to do that. In 2018 alone Visa prevented fraud and embezzlement in the amount of 55 billion USD.
Another threat actor that has entered the crypto space are money launderers and terrorist financiers. This is why we only work with exchanges that can demonstrate proven compliance programs that adhere to AML/KYC international standards and local laws.
Updating and maintaining our technology capabilities and risk management services, are a priority. Our partners and stakeholders know that in all our undertakings – in digital currency and beyond – our focus on security and trust remains paramount. Therefore, we will continue to advance responsible innovations that maintain the trust and security of the global payment ecosystem.