Visa, the world's largest payment processor, has launched a global crypto advisory service to help clients such as banks and also merchants, as the adoption of digital currencies gains steam.
Visa said it will combine its analytics division, to offer advice to financial institutions, retailers and other companies on everything from bringing crypto features to market to exploring non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
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 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.
Visa is also delving into building productsgeared towards stablecoins, virtual tokens tied to the value of sovereign currencies, such as the dollar.
"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 US lender.
Visa has come under pressure from big tech companies such as Amazon, who last month said it would no longer accept Visa credit cards in the United Kingdom due to "high fees".
A new global study by Visa showed nearly 40 per cent 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 following rival Mastercard into crypto market
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 US dollar, to settle transactions on its payment network.
Visa's announcement comes as its rival Mastercard also sees cryptos as a key market for growth. Last month, Mastercard announced a strategy focused on security and better services to support the crypto community.
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 (€53,000 to €44,000) 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.