Visa, a popular multinational payment company known for its debit, credit, and prepaid cards, is exploring the possibility of allowing customers to exchange cryptocurrency assets for government-issued fiat currencies on its platform.

StarkWare Sessions 2023

At the StarkWare Sessions 2023 conference in Tel Aviv, Cuy Sheffield, Visa’s head of crypto operations, Cuy Sheffield mentioned that the company has been testing how to accept settlement payments from issuers in USDC, starting on Ethereum and paying out in USDC on Ethereum. He essentially maintained that global settlement with digital assets is something Visa is investing in.

“That’s been one of the areas where we want to build muscle memory. In the same way that we can convert between dollars in euros on a cross-border transaction, we should be able to convert between digital tokenized dollars and traditional dollars.” – Cuy Sheffield, Head of Crypto, Visa

Visa, has been looking into ways to integrate blockchain technology into its current network to expedite money transfers. However, despite these efforts, settlements are still conducted through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) system. SWIFT is a non-profit cooperative society founded by European bankers to provide secure and consistent communication of transaction information among its members. While making that change is simple on a banking app, it’s more difficult on some digital wallets, the paper noted.

In Sheffield’s words: “We set all over Swift, so we can’t move money as frequently as we’d like because there are a number of limitations that exist in those networks. And so, we’ve been experimenting, we publicly announced. We’ve been testing how to actually accept settlement payments [with stablecoins],” 

Al Kelly – Visa ex-CEO

During Visa’s annual shareholder meeting, ex-CEO Al Kelly discussed the company’s initiatives for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and private stablecoins, stating that “stablecoins and central bank digital currencies have the potential to play a meaningful role in the payments space, and we have a number of initiatives underway.”

On a concluding note, Sheffield confirmed the company’s perspective on digital assets and blockchain technology. He said, “We’re thinking a lot about how to take some of the value that Visa provides on existing bank rails with existing forms of beyond in a rebuild that on top of the blockchain rails, using stable roads. If we think there are huge opportunities in that area, it just kind of stays on emerging.”

We can only wait to see what’s in store in Visa’s future for stablecoin adoption.