Credit card giant Visa’s chief executive remains confident that blockchain-based solutions can be integrated into its services and offerings to power the next generation of payments.
Speaking on a call at Visa’s annual shareholder meeting on January 24, outgoing CEO Al Kelly — who will officially step down on February 1 — briefly shared the company’s plans for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and private stablecoins.
According to January 24 message of the San Francisco Business Times, Kelly said:
“It’s very early days, but we continue to believe that stablecoins and central bank digital currencies have the potential to play a meaningful role in the payments space, and we have a number of initiatives under way.”
“We have had an insignificant amount of investments in crypto funds and companies as we look to invest in the payment ecosystem,” explained the outgoing CEO.
Kelly also confirmed that Visa’s balance sheet has not been affected by some of the “significant failures” that have rocked the cryptocurrency space in 2022:
“We had no credit losses related to these defaults.” […] In everything we do, please keep in mind that we are extremely focused on maintaining the integrity of the Visa payment system and the payment system as a whole, and of course our brand reputation for trust.”
Over the years, Visa has worked on a number of cryptocurrency-related initiatives.
Her research team started working on a blockchain interoperability project in September 2021, called the Universal Payment Channel (UPC) initiative, the project was designed to create a “network of networks” for CBDCs and private stablecoins to flow through various payment channels.
However, Visa has not provided a UPC update for over 12 months.
Recently, the payment giant announced on December 20, 2022 that it did write a plan to allow automated bill payments from the user’s Ethereum-powered wallet.
Visa has also recently introduced several “zero-fee” cryptocurrency debit cards, including a now terminated contract with FTX aa partnership with Blockchain.com on October 26, 2022, which is still in effect.
Visa President Ryan McInerney will officially replace Al Kelly as CEO on February 1st, while Kelly will remain on board as Executive Chairman.
McInerney appears to be just as, if not more, optimistic about blockchain-based payment solutions.
In an Conversation with Fortune in November 2022, McInerney said that Visa still has “$14 trillion in cash that consumers spend that can be digitized” and that they continue to explore where crypto-payments can best be used.