Visa is taking significant steps to integrate digital currencies into its global electronic payments network in order to prepare for a future financial landscape in which digital assets account for a significant portion of a saver’s wealth.
To date, Visa has partnered with 54 crypto firms to facilitate crypto spending. The issuance of debit cards under Visa’s FastTrack initiative, which is aimed at connecting fintech companies with the Visa network, has contributed significantly to this achievement. Over the summer, the company introduced two new products: a crypto rewards credit card in collaboration with BlockFi, and a debit card in collaboration with big crypto exchange FTX, which just raised a record $900 million at $18 billion value.
Cuy Sheffield, Visa’s Head of Crypto, said, “We saw this opportunity as these crypto platforms grow, as consumers want to gain access to the liquidity that they have held in these assets, issuing a Visa card could become a bridge that unlocks that value and enables it to be spent at any merchant that accepts Visa.”
These initiatives are gaining traction: in the first half of 2021, crypto-linked Visa debit cards facilitated over $1 billion in transactions across Visa’s 70 million merchants worldwide. Although $1 billion is a modest portion of the trillion-dollar payments business, consumer interest in cryptocurrencies is growing, indicating that the market has room to expand, particularly among younger generations. According to Sheffield, no single prominent spending category has arisen in the use of crypto-linked cards.
According to survey findings, younger generations are increasingly putting their money into cryptocurrencies and digital assets. This is particularly true for the wealthiest members of these generations, who are desired by financial institutions and card networks.
According to a Michelmores survey of 501 “affluent Millennials” in the United Kingdom, one in every five has invested in cryptocurrencies, and a CNBC survey of 750 investors conducted in April and May 2021 found that nearly half of Millennial millionaires have at least 25% of their wealth in cryptocurrencies.
Millennial interest in crypto isn’t limited to the Western world; according to a recent Mastercard MA survey conducted in February and March 2021, Middle Eastern and African Millennials are particularly interested in crypto, with 67 percent agreeing that they are more open to using it now than they were in 2020. Meanwhile, India and China each account for 33% of the $9.4 million in whey produced in Asia.
The Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated this trend by driving savings goals and curiosity in cryptocurrency at the same time.
Around 70% of the $80.9 billion in assets under custody at rising retail brokerage platform Robinhood comes from consumers aged 18 to 40. According to the firm’s S-1 filing, cryptocurrencies account for $11.5 billion in assets under custody, and transaction-based revenue collected from cryptocurrency transactions accounted for 17% of overall revenue for the three months ended March 31, 2021. This figure is up from 4% in the final three months of 2020. All of this data points to a significant level of interest in crypto assets among retail traders aged 18 to 40.
The crypto market was also reaching new heights as retail brokerage accounts grew in popularity, contributing to the excitement among younger generations. On April 14, 2021, the day after the one-year anniversary of the pandemic’s inception, Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $64,654. A month later, the market plummeted, with all bitcoin in circulation reaching a low of $1.2 trillion in July. The crypto economy has begun to recover since then. For the first time in over three months, the market surpassed $2 trillion on Wednesday, August 11.
Although most cryptocurrency investors are still thinking long-term, there will come a point when they will need to liquidate their holdings. Because of what Visa is doing, analyst Lisa Ellis says she doesn’t want to go through the tedious process of changing that bitcoin into currency.
When you use a crypto-linked debit card from a company like Crypto.com, the company converts the crypto to fiat and sends the funds to Visa, who then sends the funds to the merchant’s bank for the correct amount and in the correct currency. Visa will now take USDC instead of money from card providers like Crypto.com, thanks to cooperation with Anchorage, the first federally licensed digital asset bank.