Coinbase launched its own debit card to encourage the use of cryptocurrencies in payments and investments.
Visa said Wednesday that consumers worldwide spent more than $ 1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies on goods and services through their crypto-connected cards in the first six months of the year.
By comparison, Visa estimated crypto spending at a fraction of that amount over the same time periods last year and 2019. The payment giant did not disclose exact numbers.
“We are doing a lot to create an ecosystem that makes cryptocurrencies more usable and like any other currency,” Vasant Prabhu, CFO of Visa, told CNBC. “People are exploring ways in which they can use cryptocurrencies for things that they would use normal currencies for.” He added, “There are a lot of issues related to volatility, etc. But it is up to cryptocurrency owners to manage and track them.”
According to recent research by Visa rival Mastercard, 93% of North American consumers plan to use cryptocurrency or other emerging payment technologies like biometrics, contactless or QR code systems in the next year. The study also showed that 75% of millennials would use cryptocurrencies if they understood them better.
“We’re seeing a lot of volume on ours [network] of people buying cryptocurrencies on these various regulated exchanges and as far as we can see that trend continues, ”said Prabhu.
This summer, Mastercard will launch a card with the Gemini crypto exchange, which was co-founded by billionaires Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. The card will enable consumers to earn cryptocurrency as a reward. However, cardholders are not allowed to access their digital wallet on the website.
Visa also announced on Wednesday that the FTX cryptocurrency platform founded by billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried is joining its fintech fast-track program, which is partly focused on making cryptocurrencies more practical for consumer and business spending.
Circle, BlockFi and Coinbase, which went public on the Nasdaq in April, are current Visa partners enabling cardholders to spend money from their cryptocurrency wallets at more than 70 million merchants worldwide. Visa estimated that crypto-linked cards and other emerging payments, including biometrics and QR codes, have the potential to disrupt the $ 18 trillion spent annually on cash and checks worldwide.
Bitcoin’s market cap topped $ 1 trillion for the first time in February and hit an all-time high near $ 65,000 per unit in April due to consumer excitement during the pandemic as a store of value and inflation protection. Since then, however, Bitcoin has fallen about 45% – and last month it plunged just below $ 29,000 at the beginning of the year.
Prahbu said Visa has no short-term plans to include cryptocurrencies on its balance sheet, as Tesla, MicroStrategy and other companies have recently done.
“We don’t have any cryptocurrencies on our balance sheet today. We keep currencies on our balance sheet that we need for our business. We hold currencies in which we are paid or in which we humans pay. That’s usually the dollar, so we don’t have any plans to hold cryptocurrencies because that’s not how we usually get paid or people pay, “he said.
Visa will publish its quarterly results on July 28th.