• December 08, 2021

Visa launches cryptocurrency consulting services in push for mainstream adoption.

  • Visa announced on Wednesday that it is launching an advisory practise to help clients in navigating the world of cryptocurrencies.
  • The payments processor hopes it can help further mainstream adoption of bitcoin and other digital currencies.
  • As they expand outside card payments, Visa and its rival Mastercard see crypto as a key growth opportunity.

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

The payments processor announced on Wednesday that its crypto advisory practise, which is part of its consulting and analytics division, will also provide advice to financial institutions, retailers, and other companies 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 cryptocurrency industry. The company processed $3.5 billion in digital currency transactions through its crypto-linked card schemes from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021, according to Nikola Plecas, Visa’s European crypto lead.

Plecas told CNBC that "some of these leading exchanges have millions or tens of millions of users," and that the company allows users to spend their crypto at over 80 million merchants.

Stablecoins — virtual tokens connected to the value of sovereign currencies, typically the dollar — and central bank-issued digital currencies are also being developed by the company.

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.

In recent years, major payment networks have experienced greater competition from a slew of new financial start-ups. Emerging trends like open banking, which aims to provide competitor fintechs access to consumer bank information and payment capabilities, threaten to upend their business model.

Meanwhile, large tech companies are putting pressure on Visa. Due to the company's "high fees," Amazon announced last month that it will no longer accept Visa credit cards in the United Kingdom. In Australia and Singapore, the e-commerce behemoth has taken similar steps against Visa.

“Crypto for us is a huge new vertical and growth opportunity. Plecas added, "We will continue to focus on growing this business moving forward."

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.