Visa announced Wednesday that consumers worldwide spent more than $1Billion on cryptocurrency-linked goods and services in the first six months.
Visa, however, estimated that crypto spending was only a fraction of the amount during the same timeframes last year and 2019. The exact figures were not released by the payments giant.
CNBC’s Vasant Prabhu, Visa CFO, stated that “We are doing a lot” to make the cryptocurrency more accessible and more comparable to other currencies. “People are looking for ways to use cryptocurrency for things that they wouldn’t use regular currencies for.” He said, “There are many issues in terms of volatility, etcetera.” It’s up to the holders of cryptocurrency to keep track of them.
Recent research by Visa rival Mastercard shows that 93% of North American customers plan to use cryptocurrency and other emerging payment technologies in the coming year. According to the study, 75% of millennials said they would use cryptocurrency currency if they had a better understanding.
Prabhu stated that “we see a lot volume on our [network]” of people buying cryptocurrencies at these regulated exchanges, and that the trend continues.”
Mastercard will launch this summer a card that integrates with cryptocurrency exchange Gemini. Gemini was founded by billionaires Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss. As a reward, the card will let consumers earn cryptocurrency. Cardholders won’t be able to access their digital wallets on the site.
Visa announced Wednesday that the FTX cryptocurrency platform, which was founded by Sam Bankman-Fried and is now part of its Fintech Quick Track Program. This program focuses in part on making cryptocurrency more accessible for consumers and businesses.
Circle, BlockFi, and Coinbase are all current Visa partners. Cardholders can use their cryptocurrency wallets to make purchases at over 70 million merchants around the world. Visa estimates that crypto-linked cards and other emerging payments, including biometrics or QR code, have the potential to disrupt the $18 trillion in annual cash and check to spend worldwide.
Bitcoin’s market capitalization reached $1 trillion in February. It also hit an all-time high of $65,000 per unit in April, thanks to investor enthusiasm during the pandemic. Bitcoin has dropped roughly 45% in the past year, and it fell to $29,000 last month from where it began the year.
Prabhu stated that Visa does not have any plans to add cryptocurrency to its current balance sheet, as MicroStrategy, Tesla, and other companies did recently.
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“We don’t have cryptocurrencies in our balance sheet at the moment. We have the currencies we need to operate our business on our balance sheets. We either get paid in currencies or pay people in. It is usually the dollar, euro, or pound. We don’t plan to hold cryptocurrency, as it’s not the way that we get paid or how we pay people,” he stated.