Visa started working on a blockchain interoperability project in September 2021 to encourage CBDC and stablecoin adoption, but there have been few developments.
Visa’s CEO is hopeful that blockchain-powered solutions can be incorporated into its services and capabilities to enable the next generation of payments.
On a teleconference at Visa’s annual stockholder meeting on January 24, outgoing CEO Al Kelly — who will formally step down on February 1 — briefly discussed the company’s ambitions for Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and private stablecoins.
Kelly stated, according to a January 24 story in the San Francisco Business Times:
“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 underway.”
“As we strive to participate in the payments industry, we’ve made little investments in crypto funds and startups,” the departing CEO added.
Kelly also acknowledged that several of the “high-profile flops” that shook the cryptocurrency market in 2022 did not influence Visa’s balance sheet:
Visa has worked on a variety of crypto-related initiatives throughout the years.
Its research team began working on a blockchain interoperability project called the Universal Payment Channel (UPC) initiative in September 2021, to create a “network of networks” allowing CBDCs and private stablecoins to transit through multiple payment channels.
However, Visa has been waiting to publish an update on the UPC for over a year.
More recently, on December 20, 2022, the payment giant revealed a proposal to allow automatic bills to be paid out of a user’s Ethereum-powered wallet.
Visa has also recently launched various “zero cost” cryptocurrency debit cards, including a now-terminated collaboration with FTX and an ongoing relationship with Blockchain.com on October 26, 2022.
While Visa’s 2022 annual report only featured data until September 30 — around five weeks before FTX’s demise — further information may be published during Visa’s Q1 2023 earnings call on Jan. 26.
On February 1, Visa President Ryan McInerney will formally succeed Al Kelly as CEO, with Kelly remaining on the board as executive chairman.
McInerney is just as enthusiastic about blockchain-powered payment solutions, if not more so.
McInerney told Fortune in November 2022 that Visa still has “$14 trillion of cash out there being spent by customers that can be digitized” and that they’re continuing to investigate where crypto payments would be most beneficial.