According to Khaveen Investments, as of 2019, the Visa payment system had a 34% share of the debit card market. Although the payment giant was more than twice ahead of Mastercard with its 19%, it didn’t allow him to take the leading industry position. The largest market share (42%) belongs to the Chinese payment company UnionPay. However, over the past year, Visa and Mastercard have made a significant breakthrough in the cryptocurrency payments market. Here’s why.
At an investor meeting in January 2021, Alfred Kelly, the CEO of the Visa payment system, announced the company’s intentions to strengthen security and expand cryptocurrency transaction use.
According to him, in 2021 Visa plans to set up numerous partnership agreements with wallet operators and exchanges, as well as to start supporting cryptocurrencies if they are recognized as a legal payment means. Its multi-sided strategy included plans for BTC, altcoins, and fiat currency-backed tokens and stablecoins.
In February, the company began testing software application interfaces (APIs) allowing traditional bank customers to buy or sell digital assets.
In March, in the Fortune magazine podcast, Kelly said Visa could start using crypto as a payment option without obligatory fiat conversion. The Visa head meant two challenges. Firstly, to provide the opportunity to purchase BTC through internal accounts of the payment system, and, secondly, to establish interaction with popular BTC wallets to ease coin-to-fiat transferring and using in any of more than 70 million Visa accepted points.
Kelly highlighted the high potential of cryptocurrencies as a payment means especially in emerging economies, and also noted the Visa is related to 35 digital currency industry players. In April, it became known Visa is negotiating with several central banks to support the CBDC projects.
In August, Visa bought the CryptoPunk #7610 NFT token for 49.5 ETH (about $150,000 at the time of sale). It provoked another round of the NFT market rally. In particular, the August trading volume on the top NFT platform OpenSea exceeded $2.23 billion.
At the end of 2020, the British processing service Wirex received the status of the Visa community Principal member. This status will initially help the company expand its cryptocurrency market presence. Wirex, in particular, will be able to issue Visa cards independently.
In June, the regulated crypto derivative platform Bakkt, in partnership with Sutton Bank, launched a virtual Visa debit card. Its owners get an option to pay for purchases using BTC without the obligatory cryptocurrency-to-fiat conversion. The card supports Apple Pay and Google Pay mobile payment systems.
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As for Mastercard, back in September 2020, the payment system introduced a testing virtual environment for central bank digital currencies (CBDC), designed for CBDC modeling, evaluation of their practicality, and compatibility with the existing payment ecosystems.
Later, the company unveiled its plans to give merchants the option of accepting payments in digital assets directly, bypassing the support of cryptocurrency card issuers or processing facilities.
In July 2021, the company’s CEO Michael Maybach said the payment system intends to stay on the cutting edge of the latest digital asset industry developments, including CBDC and stablecoins. The company intends to take a market share as a multi-rail payment provider. At the same time, a survey powered by Harris Poll service showed that 40% of Mastercard customers plan to use cryptocurrencies.
Weld Money is an official partner of Visa, thanks to which investors and Weld community members have the opportunity to purchase a Visa Infinite card preferentially.
In the short-term future, we plan to conclude partnership agreements with both leading payment systems. It will allow Weld Money customers to get ultimate high-quality service and pay for purchases anywhere in the world in any convenient way with reduced fees.