Not to be outdone by Mastercard, Visa recently released details of its digital currency strategy. The announcement identifies that fintechs, including those in the digital currency space, can take advantage of Visa’s FastTrack program to integrate quickly with Visa’s global network, and sets out Visa's contribution to the digital asset industry to date.
Visa also confirms that:
We’ve been advancing and evolving our digital currency strategy for quite some time.
Emphasising the above, Visa refers to its partnerships with companies like Coinbase and Fold and its investment in digital asset custody provider Anchorage. Perhaps more interestingly, Visa confirms that its dedicated research team has been "exploring the science of blockchain technology for several years". Visa attributes a few key projects to the work of the research team, including Zether and FlyClient. The focus on future research appears to be on new mechanisms to improve scalability and enable offline digital currency transactions.
Like Mastercard, Visa emphasises that it's broader digital currency strategy reflects a set of key values, described as:
Security, privacy, integrity and trust. Visa will maintain a rigorous focus on data protection, consumer privacy and fairness, and full compliance with all applicable laws.
Remaining currency and network-agnostic: Visa plan to support the digital currencies and blockchain networks that our clients and partners demand, in keeping with our broader network-of-networks strategy.
Alignment with Visa’s core capabilities: Visa has deep expertise in securing transaction data, working with diverse stakeholders, and maintaining an always-on network with continuous availability. We will pursue projects that allow us to apply this expertise to new networks and technologies that can benefit our existing clients and partners.
Prospective partners should take note, and consider demonstrating how they also show commitment to these values.
In short, Visa emphasises that:
We believe that digital currencies have the potential to extend the value of digital payments to a greater number of people and places. As such, we want to help shape and support the role they play in the future of money.
Also like Mastercard, Visa's involvement in the digital asset industry has only accelerated since its initial involvement in (and subsequent abandonment of) the Libra Association. While some in the industry might consider incumbents like Visa and Mastercard to be the enemy, the mere fact that these payment juggernauts are essentially being forced to adopt digital currency strategies indicates that these entities have realised they can no longer ignore the disruption at their door.
As the old saying (popularly misattributed to Gandhi) goes:
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win