Visa launches consulting practice for cryptocurrencies

16 December 2021 2 min. read
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Payments company Visa has announced the launch of a new consulting and advisory service, aiding its clients as they navigate the world of cryptocurrencies. According to a release from the financial services giant, some banks are already leveraging the new offering, as the hype around cryptocurrency continues to grow.

Cryptocurrency is a digital payment system that doesn't rely on banks to verify transactions. It's a peer-to-peer system that can enable anyone anywhere to send and receive payments. Like any currency, cryptocoins are only worth what investors are prepared to believe they are worth – but the amount of belief invested in these mechanisms is surging on all fronts at present. From established entities like Bitcoin to the meme-based Dogecoin, which was recently accepted by Tesla at the behest of CEO Elon Musk, cryptocurrency is rapidly permeating multiple markets.

Amid all that hype, however, it is easy for investors to get swept along by the fear of missing out. As a result, the amount lost to scams involving apparent cryptocurrencies also continues to spiral. Meanwhile, the famous volatility of the market also exposes new investors to huge risks. Those who invested in Dogecoin after Elon Musk's statement sent its value to a recent high will have been left disappointed, as it has bled value in the days since.

Visa launches consulting practice for cryptocurrencies

To help financial services players navigate this new environment, while lessening the risk of such things, Visa has launched a new cryptocurrency consulting service. The payments processor’s latest advisory practice is housed within its consulting and analytics division, and will offer advice to financial institutions, retailers and other firms on everything from rolling out crypto features to exploring non-fungible tokens.

Nikola Plecas, Visa’s European Crypto Lead, said, “Some of these leading exchanges have millions or, in some instances, tens of millions of users.”

Speaking to CNBC, Plecas added that Visa already allows users to spend cryptocurrency at over 80 million merchants. In early autumn 2021, this saw the company processed $3.5 billion in digital currency transactions through its crypto-linked card schemes. Meanwhile, Visa also named US bank UMB as one major client that is already using its cryptocurrency consulting services.

The move marks Visa’s latest attempt to push deeper into cryptocurrency’s fledgling industry. The company is also developing products geared toward stablecoins – virtual tokens tied to the value of sovereign currencies like the dollar – and central bank-issued digital currencies.

This also comes at a time when Visa is being placed under pressure by technological change. Recently in the UK, Amazon said it would stop accepting Visa credit cards due to the company’s “high fees.” The internet company has already made similar sounds in the markets of Australia and Singapore.

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