Bullish for Bitcoin: Visa targets mass adoption with crypto pilot programme for banks
Global payments giant Visa is launching a new crypto API pilot programme to help banks facilitate bitcoin and cryptocurrency services. First Boulevard, a digital bank whose mission is to „help Black America build wealth“, is the first to participate in the groundbreaking programme.
Jack Forestell, chief product officer at Visa, says the company is already working to bridge the gap between crypto and its merchant network. But the API programme intends to take this to the next Bitcoin Capital level by bringing banks into the ecosystem.
„We set out to make Visa the bridge between digital currencies and our global network of 70 million merchants, and today we are the leading crypto wallet network with 35 crypto platforms choosing to issue with Visa.
With this pilot programme, we aim to extend the value of Visa to our neobank and financial institution clients by providing a simple bridge to crypto assets and blockchain networks.“
Using Visa’s crypto APIs, banks can buy, hold and trade cryptocurrencies held by digital bank Anchorage. Anchorage offers institutional-grade custody services. Its co-founder Diogo Mónica describes this as „financial plumbing that other businesses depend on.“
The system will serve as a testing ground for banks to access and add crypto products to their offerings. Visa expects to launch the finished service later this year.
Diversity and inclusivity
Visa explains that the collaboration with First Boulevard was a deliberate attempt to level the playing field. Especially in terms of making new technologies accessible to marginalised groups.
The partnership will see new Visa-backed product offerings from First Boulevard, including a cashback programme and a Visa debit card. Crucially, however, First Boulevard and Visa will work together to develop educational resources to demystify crypto among underrepresented communities.
Donald Hawkins, the CEO of First Boulevard, expressed his excitement about the collaboration by saying:
„We are thrilled to partner with digital payments leader, Visa, and leverage their crypto APIs to provide the black community with another channel to access crypto as a new asset class that can help build black wealth.“
Institutions can no longer afford to ignore crypto
In early 2018, Visa CEO Alfred Kelly spoke ill of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (Go to Buy Bitcoin Cheap Guide). Kelly called it a speculative commodity that is backed by nothing. More than that, he flatly refused to trade it.
Later in the year, however, it became clear that Kelly had had a change of heart. Speaking on CNBC, he acknowledged that crypto is on the rise in terms of legitimacy.
And while he remained somewhat deadlocked on the issue, he acknowledged that Visa will embrace the trend if necessary.
„We want to be in the middle, Jim, of every payment flow in the world, regardless of how it happens or what the currency behind it is. So if we need to go there, we will go there. But right now it’s more of a commodity than a payment.“
Today, Visa is one of many tech giants driving the rise of cryptocurrency (New all-time high for bitcoin in days?). And with its API pilot, this could well turn into a full-blown revolution.