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Visa launches crypto advisory providers to realize mainstream adoption

The Visa logo is displayed on a smartphone with a Bitcoin logo in the background.

Rafael Henrique | SOPA pictures | LightRakete | Getty Images

Visa is introducing new advisory and advisory services to help its customers navigate the world of cryptocurrencies.

The payment processor announced on Wednesday that its crypto advisory practice, housed in its advisory and analytics department, will provide advice to financial institutions, retailers and other businesses on everything from introducing crypto features to researching non-fungible tokens.

Visa named the American bank UMB as a customer who is already using its crypto advisory services.

The move marks Visa’s latest attempt to dig deeper into the crypto industry. From October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021, the company processed $ 3.5 billion worth of digital currency transactions through its crypto-connected card systems, according to Nikola Plecas, Visa's European crypto director for Visa.

"Some of these leading exchanges have millions, or tens of millions in some cases," Plecas told CNBC, adding that the company allows users to spend their cryptos at over 80 million merchants.

The company also develops products geared towards stablecoins – virtual tokens tied to the value of state currencies, usually the dollar – and digital currencies issued by central banks.

Visa hopes its crypto advice can help fuel mainstream adoption of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Like rival Mastercard, the credit card giant sees cryptocurrencies as a key growth opportunity as it expands beyond card payments.

Large payment networks have faced increasing competition in recent years due to the influx of new financial upstarts. New trends such as open banking, which aims to open up consumer banking information and payment options to competing fintechs, threaten to disrupt their business model.

Visa is now also under pressure from major tech companies. Amazon announced last month that it would stop accepting Visa credit cards in the UK due to the company's "high fees". The e-commerce titan has taken similar steps against Visa in Australia and Singapore.

“Crypto is a huge new vertical and growth opportunity for us. And we will continue to focus on growing this business, ”said Plecas.

A study published by Visa on Wednesday found that 94% of people now have some level of awareness about crypto, while nearly a third have used it as an investment or medium of exchange. For the study, which was carried out in cooperation with the marketing service company LRW, more than 6,000 people worldwide were interviewed.

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