Visa has launched a new consulting practice to support financial institutions, retailers, and other organizations with cryptocurrency initiatives.
The new practice is situated within the payment processing company’s consulting and analytics division, which has approximately 700 payments consultants, data scientists, and economists globally.
Visa will now work with clients to help them advance their crypto journey – with offerings across strategy, capabilities assessment, business cases, and go-to-market approach. Visa says its consultants will draw on the company’s work with more than 60 crypto platforms to advise on areas such as product development, innovation and design, and marketing strategy and execution.
Visa views digital currencies as a new opportunity for growth beyond its core business in card payments. The firm has in recent months been pressured by Amazon, which said it will stop accepting Visa for payments in the UK, Australia, and Singapore – citing high fees.
Cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin foremost among them – are viewed by many leading economists, investors, and central bank officials as basically a valueless asset, a bubble, a Ponzi scheme, and a way to make criminal transactions easier. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz in 2017 told Bloomberg News that “Bitcoin is successful only because of its potential for circumvention…it seems to me it ought to be outlawed.” He added, “It doesn’t serve any socially useful function.”
Bitcoin mining is also environmentally destructive, consuming as much energy as the entire country of Finland in a year.
Consumers are blinded by crypto’s sparkle of unfamiliarity and buy in because of FOMO and speculation. The same impulses are apparent in the new hotness of non-fungible tokens. Blockchain within these applications is an unproductive blight on society, but whatever grasping use cases blockchain is crammed into outside of crypto and NFTs would likely be better served by standard databases anyway.
Visa conducted a global survey of 6,000 people and found that 94% are aware of crypto, and nearly one-third of crypto-aware adults own or use cryptocurrency. The top reasons for using crypto were to partake in the “financial way of the future” (42%) and to build wealth (41%).
Visa’s new practice will also advise on central bank digital currencies – but such digital coins are issued by a state, would be fiat currency, and wouldn’t have to bother with blockchain. That would make them less attractive to criminals and speculators, however.
“Crypto represents a technological shift for money movement and digital ownership,” said Terry Angelos, SVP, and global head of fintech at Visa. “As consumers change their approach to investing, where they bank, and their views on the future of money, every financial institution will need a crypto strategy.”