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Mastercard, Visa, Paypal And Banks Expand Cryptocurrency Cards And Programs (#GotBitcoin?)

Mastercard, Visa, Paypal and banks are reaching out to cryptocurrency firms and encouraging them to apply to become partners as part of their newly-expanded cryptocurrency cards and programs.

Mastercard is reaching out to cryptocurrency firms and encouraging them to apply to become partners as part of its newly-expanded cryptocurrency card program.

Related:

Ultimate Resource For Bitcoin Debit (Cashback) Cards of 2021 (#GotBitcoin?)

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On July 20, Mastercard said it was simplifying access to its Accelerate program for crypto card issuers, allowing applicants to be onboarded as partners “in a matter of weeks.”

Now enhanced for crypto card applicants, the Accelerate program gives partners support with their market entry, continued growth and international expansion.

New crypto partners will be assisted in integrating Mastercard’s technology and will be in a position to benefit from the firm’s cybersecurity expertise and market research.

While it is streamlining access to its program for crypto firms, Mastercard has emphasized that all partners must comply with its “core principles.”

These include providing robust consumer protection (ensuring privacy and security for users), operating in compliance with relevant laws and regulations, such as Anti-Money Laundering rules, and establishing a level playing field for all stakeholders, such as financial institutions, merchants and mobile network operators.

Raj Dhamodharan, Executive Vice President Of Digital Asset And Blockchain Products And Partnerships At Mastercard, Said:

“The cryptocurrency market continues to mature, and Mastercard is driving it forward, creating safe and secure experiences for consumers and businesses in today’s digital economy.”

Wirex Becomes Mastercard’s First Crypto Partner With Principal Membership

Parallel to reaching out to crypto card partners, Mastercard has also announced that London-based crypto payment processor Wirex has become the first native cryptocurrency platform to be granted a Mastercard principal membership, which will allow it to directly issue crypto payment cards.

Thanks to the membership, Wirex card users will be able to immediately convert their crypto holdings into fiat currency, which can be spent at points of sale that accept Mastercard. Currency will thus enter Mastercard’s network in the form of fiat, not cryptocurrency.

Wirex CEO and co-founder Pavel Matveev has said that the membership “represents a growing interest and recognition in the acceptance of cryptocurrency by leading bodies and regulators.” He added that partnering with Mastercard will help the firm to realize its “vision of empowering everyone to experience a world where all currencies, traditional and crypto, are equal.”

Wirex is regulated by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority and has a license to issue crypto cards in Europe. Earlier this year, it hit over 3 million active users, noting that increasing numbers of them are “not typically hardcore cryptocurrency users.”

Prior to partnering with Wirex, Mastercard collaborated with blockchain payments provider BitPay this June to launch a prepaid card for crypto users in the United States.

Crypterium Becomes An Official Visa Europe Partner, Launches New Crypto Payment Card

Cryptocurrency adoption relies heavily on companies and services making digital currencies as easy to use as cash. Decentralized finance, and second-layer payment technologies have played prominent roles in widespread reach and acceptance of cryptocurrencies.

One company that is doing it differently is Crypterium. Through a unique offering combo of crypto banking options, a wallet, and a payment card, Crypterium is redefining crypto adoption. The company recently became an official VISA Europe partner and announced the launch of its new Crypterium Card VISA Edition

New Crypterium Card Visa Edition To Expand Its Crypto Card Reach Globally

After becoming an official partner of the world’s leading electronic payment card issuer, Crypterium is diversifying its crypto card lineup with a new Crypterium Card VISA Edition.

Crypterium Card, the company’s previous card product offering through UnionPay, is already a popular choice amongst 30,000+ users across 150 countries.

The new VISA card will expose more than 500,000 customers of Crypterium to a globally accepted payment method.

Users can load up the Crypterium card through the Crypterium Wallet. The in-wallet exchange service will immediately convert cryptocurrencies stored into fiat that can be used to load the card and then spent at any location accepting VISA cards.

The distinctly designed card adorned in vibrant yellow and dark blue not just looks stunning but also provides a smooth and familiar user experience. The card even supports contactless near-field payment technology, which is critical given the current environment and is expected to support Apple Pay.

Crypterium Is Issuing The New Visa Card For Free, Crpt Token Will Holders Get Free-Delivery

The KPMG and H2 Ventures awarded crypto bank aims to break down barriers and bridge the gap between crypto adoption and mainstream usage. One way they plan to do so is by offering the all-new Crypterium Card VISA Edition for free.

VISA is the world’s most accepted payment card. For us, this product was a logical step. The launch of the Crypterium Card VISA Edition is aligned with our desire to provide customers with exceptional flexibility. With this card, our clients can easily pay anywhere in the world with a single tap, keeping full control of their finances through the Crypterium Wallet.

The only cost associated with each new Crypterium Card VISA Edition is the delivery fee, however, holders of Crypterium’s CRPT tokens will receive free-of-charge delivery – yet another key benefit to holding the tokens.

Access All Card Features Through Crypterium Wallet For Ios And Android

The new Crypterium Card VISA Edition, like the Crypterium Card from UnionPay, can be managed entirely from within the Crypterium Wallet on iOS and Android.

The free app download enables a wallet interface that lets users block and unblock the card, set and alter their security PIN, take a look at transactions, and more. All accounts are 100% backed by insurance from industry leader BitGo.

The Crypterium Card VISA Edition could be a giant leap for crypto adoption, allowing more crypto holders to pay for goods and services at point-of-sale locations all over the globe where VISA cards are accepted. For more information, visit their website or download the free iOS and Android app.

 

Coincidence? Top 5 Swiss Bank’s Profits up 34% After Bitcoin Integration

Julius Baer, a top-five Swiss bank, saw its net profit climb by 34% in the first half of 2020, a period during which it began offering digital assets like Bitcoin to its clients.

Top five Swiss bank Julius Baer Group, which manages $427 billion in assets, announced on July 20 that its profit increased by $524 million in the last two quarters. The bank most likely benefited from an increase in trading revenues throughout the U.S. and Europe.

The profit of Julius Baer reportedly spiked by 34% in the first half of 2020. It coincides with the bank’s introduction of a custodial service for digital assets — like Bitcoin (BTC) — in January.

Overall Surge In Global Banking Revenues Or Bitcoin Integration?

The trend of major banks in the second quarter of 2020 suggests a massive increase in trading revenues. The pandemic and the introduction of stimulus packages drove a retail “fear of missing out” (FOMO) rally in the stock market.

The noticeable increase in retail demand for stocks led the revenues of banks, especially for trading departments, to surge. JPMorgan, as an example, earned $4.7 billion in net income in the second quarter of 2020. The U.S. investment bank posted its highest quarterly revenue in history.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon Said On July 14:

“We earned $4.7 billion of net income in the second quarter despite building $8.9 billion of credit reserves because we generated our highest quarterly revenue ever, which demonstrates the benefit of our diversified global business model.”

Like other banks, the rise in Julius Baer’s profit likely comes from heightened levels of retail trading since the start of April. While Bitcoin recorded high volatility from March to May, since June onwards, it has seen historically low levels of volatility.

Stocks have been significantly more volatile in recent weeks. Sellers and buyers triggered large short-term movements in the stock market, as the anticipation of new stimulus continuously increased.

But, as Coinbase explained, Bitcoin saw a big spike in demand from retail users in the aftermath of “Black Thursday.” On March 13, BTC dropped to as low as sub-$3,600, causing havoc in the cryptocurrency market.

In the following two months since the massive correction, Bitcoin saw a 190% rally from $3,600 to $10,440. Since Julius Baer added support for digital assets in January, it might have benefited from Bitcoin’s volatility from March to May.

Julius Baer Said On January 21:

“Julius Baer has extended its service range and as of now includes digital assets offerings such as secure storage and transaction solutions […]. The Bank is able to offer access to a select group of cryptocurrencies, chosen for their tradability, safety, and technical reliability.”

More Banks Are Seemingly Becoming More Comfortable With Crypto

Since early 2020, an increasing number of major financial institutions have started to support Bitcoin exchanges.

On May 12, for instance, JPMorgan Chase added Coinbase and Gemini as its clients. This suggests that major banks are starting to embrace the new asset class. In previous years, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon heavily criticized Bitcoin, saying “it’s not a real thing” according to CNBC.

The spike in profit of increasingly crypto-friendly banks, such as Julius Bear and JPMorgan, appears to be another sign of increasing institutional demand and the improving perception of Bitcoin as an alternative asset class.

Updated: 7-30-2020

Mastercard’s Revenue Falls, Hurt By Recession

Company’s earnings came in at $1.42 billion.

Mastercard Inc.’s revenue in the second quarter tumbled nearly 20% as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to weigh on business.

Mastercard’s revenue was $3.34 billion, down 19% from a year earlier. The company’s top line beat the consensus estimate from Wall Street of $3.25 billion, according to FactSet.

The revenue drop was in part from a slump in gross-dollar volume, or the value of card transactions, which fell 10% on a local currency basis. Also leading to the revenue decline was a drop in cross-border volume, which fell 45% on a local currency basis, and switched transactions, which fell 10%. Switched-transaction revenue comes from the company authorizing, settling or clearing transactions.

The company reported earnings for the quarter that ended in June of $1.42 billion, or $1.41 a share. Those earnings declined from a year earlier $2.05 billion, or $2 a share.

Adjusted earnings were $1.36 a share.

According to FactSet, Wall Street expected $1.16 a share.

The company recorded a $22 million litigation provision for the quarter. Those charges were related to fees and litigation settlements with merchants in the U.K. and pan-Europe, Mastercard said.

Visa Inc., which reported results earlier this week, also logged results that were heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company saw a 10% drop in payments volume.

Updated: 7-31-2020

Mastercard and Visa Are Making Bold Moves Toward Mass Crypto Adoption

Global payment processors Mastercard and Visa are laying the foundations for crypto support that may drive adoption on a global scale.

Leading global payment companies Mastercard and Visa have been making moves to accelerate the support of cryptocurrency payment processors by opening up new options for users around the world. Both companies made strong statements in support of the use of cryptocurrencies in July by announcing respective projects and collaborations that are driving the adoption of cryptocurrencies.

The positive attitude toward cryptocurrency exchanges and payment platforms from the world’s largest traditional payment processors signals a shift in perception from the traditional financial space. Mastercard has been actively encouraging exchanges and payment service providers to enlist in its recently expanded cryptocurrency card program, becoming partners in just a few weeks as part of its Accelerate program.

Meanwhile, Visa outlined its vision of the cryptocurrency space with an overarching theme of positivity toward the market and the role it will play.

The payment service provider noted digital currencies as an exciting avenue to expand existing network-of-networks to support the latest technology powering global commerce. These two global giants are not just offering lip service, either; their payment cards and technology are already powering a number of platforms and service providers within the crypto space.

The likes of Coinbase and Binance crypto exchanges use either Visa or Mastercard to power their crypto debit card services.
Visa’s and Mastercard’s relationship with crypto is growing

Visa’s public affirmation of its positive stance toward cryptocurrency payment services reflects its drive to remain a leading player in the global payment network. As highlighted in its “outlook on new digital currency payment flows,” the company admits that a growing body of players in the traditional financial sphere has been looking to plug into the crypto space: “It’s a concept that is gaining traction beyond fintechs.”

The company has already established a working relationship with some leading cryptocurrency-based firms in 2020, including Coinbase and Fold. This is in addition to more than 25 cryptocurrency wallets that are connected to Visa’s systems. Visa also has its fintech-focused accelerator program called FastTrack, which allows tech firms including cryptocurrency and blockchain-based companies to access its systems and network.

The company has also been developing its own cryptocurrency projects that include an investment into tech firm Anchorage, which builds security infrastructure for the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Its research team has also been working in the blockchain space for a number of years, culminating in the creation of the white papers for the Zether and FlyClient projects.

Furthermore, Visa has been involved in helping shape regulations and policies toward cryptocurrencies around the world. It has worked with the World Economic Forum to develop recommendations for central banks looking into the use cases of central bank digital currencies. Cointelegraph reached out to Visa for additional insights, but the company declined to provide any further information other than its blog post.

Mastercard has been actively encouraging crypto exchanges and payment service providers to sign up to their Accelerate platform in an effort to expedite the process to become partners by fast-tracking the onboarding of new crypto debit and credit card providers while providing added assistance for market entry and expansion in different countries. Nevertheless, prospective partners need to meet stringent requirements set by Mastercard. This includes high levels of consumer protection and compliance with AML/KYC regulations.

This move to collaborate with the crypto industry comes off the back of the news that Wirex became the first cryptocurrency platform granted a Mastercard principal membership. Part of the functionality allows users the ability to instantly convert cryptocurrencies into conventional fiat currency. An added benefit is a rewards program that gives users 1.5% of purchases made with these cards in Bitcoin.

Bridging The Divide

Recently, Binance confirmed that a limited run of its Binance Cards is being shipped to Europe. The move adds real substance to the statements made by Visa and Mastercard, as users are beginning to have access to these card services through some of the biggest players in the cryptocurrency exchange space.

According to Josh Goodbody, the director of European and Latin American growth and institutional business at Binance, traditional banking cards are a “bridge between the crypto and traditional finance,” adding: “Crypto debit cards provide a tangible and frictionless way to spend your crypto, and it provides users with the ability to incorporate crypto into their day-to-day lives.”

Goodbody declined to go into detail about the direct working relationship with Visa but stated that the acquisition of cryptocurrency payment platform Swipe would allow Binance to tap into an established network of regional service providers where the company hopes to bring new users into the cryptocurrency space. Goodbody believes that mainstream financial firms will have a key role to play in this:

“Visa and other networks’ willingness to work with the blockchain industry is a very positive vote of confidence for the further adoption of cryptocurrencies. Not only are traditional technology providers facilitating adoption, they are actively participating in the development of the ecosystem — we see this as an opportunity to further the adoption and accessibility of cryptocurrencies.”

Crypto analyst Mati Greenspan also complimented the move by Mastercard and Visa in the Quantum Economics email newsletter from late July, saying: “As far as fundamentals are concerned, this is about as bullish as it gets for Bitcoin and the gang.”

Netanel Kabala, the chief analytics officer and co-founder of payment platform Simplex, told Cointelegraph that his company has been working alongside Visa and Mastercard for seven years. The relationship has allowed the company to open up cryptocurrency offerings to new users exploring alternative investment methods:

“Crypto adoption is growing globally as people seek out alternative investment avenues.” Kabala identified a lag time for new users being introduced into crypto, but the integration of mainstream financial institutions like Mastercard and Visa is a strong signal:

“From an analytics standpoint, we’re seeing many new users enter the crypto world. With every new technology or advancement, it often does take some time before the general public incorporates it into the mainstream. While we definitely believed this mainstream adoption would have come earlier, it seems to be starting now.”

Simplex CEO Nimrod Lehavi believes that there is a more receptive perception to the potential benefits of cryptocurrency, mainly driven by people who want to wrestle back control of their assets and ability to transact independently: “Anything that lowers friction and helps people gain full control of their assets will spread adoption, and crypto-connected debit and credit cards are a key component in that regard.”

Financial industry leaders like Mastercard and Visa vocally supporting and actively working with cryptocurrency and blockchain firms add more credence to the value and utility of these services. Lehavi believes that this will open the door to more users that have not been exposed to digital assets: “The support of major players removes a great deal of the uncertainty people might have regarding cryptocurrencies and will enable them to discover digital assets for what they are.”

Updated: 10-29-2020

Visa Powers One More Crypto Card Amid Ongoing Antitrust Charges

U.S. regulator’s growing distrust in tech companies is not stopping them from extending their services into the crypto industry.

As technology titans in the United States capture a larger part of their industries and beyond, regulators and governments have become increasingly concerned about their extensive power and influence.

Indeed, Facebook, Twitter and Google’s parent company Alphabet all appeared before a Congressional antitrust hearing in July.

The primary concern of the government is that these companies use their authority to stifle competition and manipulate users to maintain their leading position in the marketplace.

The latest in a series of ongoing antitrust charges and investigations on corporate giants is the one being considered by the U.S. Department of Justice against Visa. The DOJ said in a public statement that it was investigating the payments giant acquisition of financial services company Plaid.

The statement accuses Bain & Company, Visa’s management and consulting partner, of not complying with the department’s Civil Investigative Demand and withholding important documents about the acquisition. The information requested from the company is considered necessary for the department’s ability to analyze the fairness of the transaction and its impact on the existing competition. The DOJ seemingly fears that Visa could have gone against antitrust laws to keep its competition in check.

Despite the fiasco, the payments giant seems to be spreading its territory not only across the traditional financial landscape but also in crypto payments. Visa cards processed almost $2.2 trillion worth of transactions in Q4 2020, leaving behind the second-largest payment processor, Mastercard, by a margin of more than $1.25 trillion. Even in the cryptocurrency space, the company has gained strong grounds and powers some of the most famous cryptocurrency cards.

Adding to Visa’s already extensive reach in the cryptocurrency space, the San Francisco-based crypto cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced plans to roll out a Visa-powered cryptocurrency debit card in the United States. The card has been available in the United Kingdom and European Union since 2019. Early next year, Coinbase will also start delivering its cards to people from all U.S. states except Hawaii.

According to Coinbase, the card will support stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies supported on its platform. Users will be able to make payments or withdraw money using their Visa-powered crypto debit cards at any portal that supports Visa cards.

Crypto credit and debit cards certainly make crypto payments more convenient. And the integration of cryptocurrencies to PayPal is also another major boost to cryptocurrency adoption. However, the expansion of these companies further into the financial technology space may become a concern for the U.S. government.

While these companies’ failure to comply with antitrust laws has already been a major trouble for the government, their slow but successful growth into the decentralized financial world may be seen as even bigger trouble.

Regulatory scrutiny toward Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Libra is a fitting example of how wary the government is against centralized and private cryptocurrency projects that have the potential to reach a wide user base.

Updated: 11-23-2020

Visa Stalls Plans To Raise Fees For Some In-Store Retailers

Visa Inc. is delaying plans to raise the swipe fees paid by certain U.S. merchants each time a customer uses a credit card in-store as the coronavirus pandemic continues to crimp commerce across the country.

The network told merchants this month it will leave consumer credit card-present retail rates unchanged, citing the pandemic’s effects on in-store shopping, according to a document seen by Bloomberg. A spokesman for Visa declined to comment.

Visa had planned to make the biggest changes to swipe fees in a decade this year, with higher rates planned for transactions on e-commerce sites. Some retailers, such as those in real estate or education, were set to see such fees decline.

The network opted to delay the changes as the pandemic took hold across the U.S., forcing consumers to stay inside and crimping transactions on the firm’s network. The planned changes will now happen in April 2021.

“Given the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the U.S. economy, Visa determined it would not make any structural changes to the payments ecosystem over the last year,” the network said in the document.

Tokenization Push

In the initial proposed changes, Visa said the interchange rate for so-called card-not-present transactions, which include those made online or over the phone, will increase. For a traditional Visa card, the fee on a $100 transaction will climb to $1.99 from $1.90. For premium Visa cards, the fee will rise to $2.60 from $2.50.

While those rates are still set to go into effect in April, the network said it will offer a lower rate for merchants who elect to tokenize those transactions using a Visa EMV payment token, starting in October.

Visa, along with Mastercard Inc., has spent years promoting tokenization technology. The service was designed to reduce online card fraud and help issuers approve more transactions by swapping sensitive information such as account numbers with a unique one-time use set of numbers that validates a customer’s identity.

Still, there’s been resistance to the technology. Merchants have complained that they’ve lost the ability to route certain debit-card transactions over alternative, cheaper networks for online and mobile-wallet transactions that use tokenization.

“Incentivizing greater use of tokens will improve e-commerce authorization rates and bolster security at a time when fraudsters are increasingly targeting digital and e-commerce channels,” Visa said in its message.

Updated: 2-3-2021

Visa Announces Neobank Pilot Focused On Getting Crypto Tools To Black Community

The crypto APIs will help “provide another channel for the Black community to access crypto as a new asset class.”

Visa has teamed up with a neobank to pilot a crypto program that will allow underbanked individuals to purchase, custody, and trade digital assets.

In an announcement today, customers at First Boulevard, a neobank “built for Black America,” will soon be able use Visa’s application programming interfaces, or APIs, to access the benefits of trading and custodying crypto.

Visa said the partnership was part of its efforts to give people using financial institutions without the infrastructure for digital assets the means to tap into crypto and blockchain.

“With this pilot program, we want to extend the value of Visa to our neobank and financial institution clients by providing an easy bridge to crypto assets and blockchain networks,” said Visa chief product officer Jack Forestell.

According to First Boulevard CEO and president Donald Hawkins, Visa’s crypto APIs will help “provide another channel for the Black community to access crypto as a new asset class,” which is expected to narrow the wealth gap. Hawkins claimed that given current economic trends, the net medium income of Black families in the United States will drop to $0 by 2053.

The First Boulevard partnership is part of a move from the financial firm to address underrepresented communities in digital businesses, banking, and FinTech. Visa said it would be working with Black-focused businesses including CapWay, eatOkra, First Boulevard, OneUnited Bank and Urban One “to provide financial and business services” in addition to increasing education of digital payments and solutions.

Others in the crypto space have been promoting the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain to unbanked and underbanked individuals. Bitcoin & Black America author Isaiah Jackson has called for digital assets as a means for Black people to deal with financial oppressors in the United States.

Updated: 2-10-2021

MasterCard Announces Support For Crypto On Its Network

MasterCard will allow its almost one billion users to spend cryptocurrencies at more 30 million merchants, although it hasn’t specified which coins will be supported.

MasterCard has announced plans to support cryptocurrencies in 2021, paving the way for its nearly one billion users to spend digital assets at more than 30 million merchants.

The firm believes this may open merchants up to new customers and build loyalty with existing customers who are already migrating to digital assets over traditional fiat options.

“It’s about choice. MasterCard isn’t here to recommend you start using cryptocurrencies. But we are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value”

While the global payments giant noted it is planning to support stablecoins due to their “reliability and security,” Mastercard declined to name any specific cryptocurrencies it will integrate.

However, Mastercard offered four core criteria by which it will be assessing prospective assets: robust consumer protections including consumer privacy and security, strict KYC compliance, adherence to local laws and regulations, and stability as a means of payment.

MasterCard also noted it is “actively engaging with several major central banks around the world” to support central bank digital currency initiatives, or CBDCs.

Last year, the firm released a “virtual sandbox” tool to demonstrate how a CBDC can be used to settle consumer purchases using MasterCard’s infrastructure.

MasterCard’s announcement also reported increasing demand for digital assets among its customers, noting that many users have been buying crypto assets with their MasterCards amid the current bull market.

“Digital assets are becoming a more important part of the payments world,” MasterCard concluded.

“We are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value — traditional or crypto — however they want. It should be your choice, it’s your money.”

MasterCard already devoted significant resources into exploring distributed ledger technology, with the company currently holding 89 blockchain patents while a further 285 applications are pending.

The payments provider has engaged in crypto payments for some time now, partnering with Wirex and BitPay to create crypto cards, although no cryptocurrencies moved through MasterCard’s network.

MasterCard’s announcement is the latest of a series of institutional adoption of cryptocurrencies that have come in the last few weeks. This week Tesla announced a purchase of $1.5 billion Bitcoin from its cash reserve adding that it will soon accept Bitcoin payments for its cars.

Last week, PayPal doubled down on crypto announcing that it will offer crypto payments for its 26 million merchants after its limited crypto trading services “exceeded expectations.”

One week prior to this, Visa chairman and CEO Al Kelly reaffirmed its commitment to crypto payments and onramps during its Q1 earnings call.

Speculation on which other tech firms will be the next to enter the cryptocurrency rabbit-hole has also started emerging, with financial services provider RBC Capital Markets stating that Apple should follow in Tesla’s footsteps. RBC analyst Mitch Steves wrote to clients that developing a crypto exchange into the Apple Wallet would create a sizeable new market for growth.

Updated: 7-7-2021

Visa Reports Over $1 Billion In Crypto Spending In H1 2021

Payment giant Visa will continue connecting the crypto economy to its “network of networks” to support the broader digital transformation of financial services.

Global payments giant Visa will continue to support the development and adoption of the cryptocurrency industry as part of its business, the company said in its latest crypto update.

In an official statement on Wednesday, Visa announced that its crypto-enabled cards processed more than $1 billion in total spending in the first half of 2021.

The company noted that Visa is partnering with 50 major companies in the crypto industry as well as crypto card programs enabling users to convert and spend digital currency at 70 million merchants worldwide. Given the size of spending on Visa crypto-linked cards, the company said that “it’s clear that the crypto community sees value in linking digital currencies to Visa’s global network.”

Visa emphasized that its digital currency support does not require global merchants to accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) directly though. As previously reported, Visa has been working with major crypto players like cryptocurrency exchange platform Crypto.com to enable a crypto settlement system for fiat transactions. The company has also been closely working with other major crypto companies like FTX exchange, Coinbase, CoinZoom, and others.

The firm also stated that stablecoins — cryptocurrencies pegged to the value of other assets or fiat currencies like the United States dollar — are “starting to live up the promise of digital fiat,” outlining its developer-friendly features combined with the reliability of fiat-backed reserves. “Stablecoins are on track to become an important part of the broader digital transformation of financial services, and Visa is excited to help shape and support that development,” the company wrote, adding:

“We’ve been busy at Visa, connecting the crypto economy to our ‘network-of-networks,’ a strategy designed to add value to all forms of money movement, whether on the Visa network, or beyond.”

One of the world’s largest payment companies, Visa made a major move into the crypto industry last year, partnering with Goldman Sachs-backed blockchain company Circle in order to make its USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin compatible with certain credit cards. The company has since reaffirmed its commitment to crypto payments and fiat on-ramps, as well as its particular focus on stablecoin-based integrations.

Updated: 7-15-2021

Visa Approves Australian Startup To Issue Debit Cards For Spending Bitcoin

The move by Visa to allow the issuance captures the growing interest in cryptocurrencies for Australia’s economic market.

Australians will soon be able to spend crypto via existing brick-and-mortar point-of-sales with the issuance of a new physical debit card, the Australian Financial Review reported Wednesday.

Global payments giant Visa has approved local Australian startup CryptoSpend to begin issuing debit cards for the startup’s users. Those using the CryptoSpend app can then pay using their bitcoin and other supported crypto at retail stores and hospitality venues.

Instead of needing to convert from crypto to fiat, like some other offerings on the market, users of CryptoSpend’s app can make direct purchases.

CryptoSpend co-founder Andrew Grech told CoinDesk via email CryptoSpend’s card will give Australians another “flexible way” to spend their crypto on everyday items.

“Anything from a cinema ticket to your new pair of headphones,” said Grech.

ASX-listed Novatti will issue the card, which is expected to hit Australia in September, while custody of the crypto holdings will be handed over to New York-licensed custodian BitGo, AFR reported.

CryptoSpend’s app allows users to spend their crypto, pay out to their account, and pay bills with supported cryptos including bitcoin, ether, XRP, bitcoin cash and litecoin. The app has its own wallet on which users can hold their coins.

“We have customers that range from 18-year-old students to 70-year-old grandmothers, said Richard Voice, co-founder & COO of CryptoSpend. “[This] further emphasizes the growing appetite for people of all ages to use crypto as an everyday currency.”

Indeed, the move captures the growing interest in cryptocurrencies for Australia’s economic market. Hong Kong-based Crypto.com became a principal member of Visa Australia in March, allowing the business to directly offer its version of a crypto Visa card in Australia.

Updated: 7-20-2021

Mastercard’s Latest Partnership To Help Banks Distribute Crypto Cards

The partnership is aimed toward simplifying cryptocurrency-to-fiat conversions within Mastercard’s existing payment network.

American fintech giant Mastercard has announced plans to revamp its crypto card program, to enable traditional banks and crypto companies to offer cards to its users for transacting with digital assets.

According To The Official Statement:

“Mastercard and its partners will test this new capability to enable more banks and crypto companies to offer a card option to people wanting to spend their digital assets anywhere Mastercard is accepted.”

This effort involves Mastercard partnering with crypto businesses to involve “cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges, making it simpler for partners to convert cryptocurrency to traditional fiat currency.”

To allow exposure to cryptocurrency for its users, the New York-based financial institution has publicly announced fresh partnerships with Circle, Paxos, Evolve Bank & Trust, Metropolitan Commercial Bank, Uphold, BitPay, Apto Payments, i2c Inc. and Galileo Financial Technologies.

The revised card program will help Mastercard utilize its massive payments network to not only take away the friction between fiat and crypto but also to provide more alternatives for users interested in using cryptocurrency.

To help reduce the inherent volatility of cryptocurrency and its related conversion complications, Mastercard will take advantage of Circle’s dollar-pegged stablecoin, USD Coin (USDC), for instant conversions while initiating the payment transfers.

Mastercard’s decision to explore the use of its traditional payments infrastructure within the crypto space may not come as a surprise to those who know about Visa’s ongoing move into offering crypto debit cards.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, Visa intends to distribute a Bitcoin (BTC) debit card to Australian citizens that also will be capable of transacting opopular altcoins such as Ether (ETH), XRP, and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

Research from Cointelegraph last year highlighted the rise of crypto debit cards and identified the various options available to the general public.

Updated: 7-30-2021

Crypto Frenzy May Be Winding Down, Visa CFO Says

This spring, crypto-related transactions using Visa were a significant boost to the company’s cross-border volume, although this effect is beginning to wane.

This year has seen unprecedented growth in the crypto markets, with lucrative knock-on effects for third parties like Visa. This, however, may already be beginning to dwindle, according to the company’s senior executives.

The payments giant’s newly released financial results for fiscal Q3 2021 show bullish figures for cross-border and overseas transactions — a key metric for analysts on the lookout for early signals of pandemic recovery.

Earlier this month, Visa revealed that its crypto-enabled cards had processed more than $1 billion in total spending for H1 2021, registering an impact on overseas volume as crypto users deposited funds into crypto platforms across various jurisdictions. These effects are still visible in the company’s latest results for Q3, with the report indicating that:

“Cross-border volume excluding transactions within Europe, which drive our international transaction revenues, increased 53% on a constant-dollar basis for the three months ended June 30, 2021. Total cross-border volume on a constant-dollar basis increased 47% in the quarter.”

In a fresh interview, however, Visa chief financial officer Vasant Prabhu said that much of the crypto-driven momentum behind higher cross-border spending was in fact limited to the first two months of the quarter.

Highlighting the spike in crypto purchases in April and May, Prabhu noted that it had begun to fall back by June. Given the faltering return to international travel, Prabhu warned that the cross-border volume could be poised to decline without being buoyed up by a booming crypto market.

The overall picture for the past quarter shows that Visa drew in significant revenues from its overseas transaction processing, which is significantly more lucrative for the firm than intra-national spending.

Overall, the company reported a 34% year-on-year increase in payments using its cards — keeping in mind that much of the globe was under strict lockdowns last year. The company has also reported net revenues of $6.1 billion for Q3 2021, an increase of 27%, outstripping the $5.86 billion average of analysts’ estimates.

Among recent deals, the report notes Visa’s recent signature of a definitive agreement to acquire Currencycloud, a cross-border payments platform that supports roughly 500 banking and technology clients across over 180 countries. Currencycloud has recently entered a partnership with Ripple, the company behind XRP, to jointly explore new cross-border transactions mechanisms.

Updated: 8-19-2021

Visa’s 54 Bitcoin-Linked Cards Pave The Way For Younger Generations To Spend Growing Crypto Wealth

Visa is taking robust steps to connect digital currencies to its global electronic payments network in order to prepare for a financial future where digital assets comprise a meaningful amount of a saver’s wealth.

To date, 54 crypto companies have partnered with Visa to enable crypto spending. Much of this progress comes from the issuance of debit cards using Visa’s FastTrack program, which is targeted towards integrating fintech companies with the Visa network. Over the summer, the firm launched two more products, a crypto rewards credit card in partnership with BlockFi and a debit card with major crypto exchange FTX, which just raised a record $900 million at an $18 billion valuation.

Other crypto-friendly card partners include CoinZoom, Coinbase, Zap, Crypto.com, Bitpanda, Fold, Upgrade, Wirex, and ZenGo.

“We saw this opportunity as these crypto platforms grow, as consumers want to gain access to the liquidity that they have held in these assets, issuing a Visa card could become a bridge that unlocks that value and enables it to be spent at any merchant that accepts Visa,” Head of Crypto at Visa, Cuy Sheffield said.

These projects have gained traction — crypto-linked Visa debit cards facilitated over $1 billion worth of transactions across Visa’s 70 million merchants worldwide in the first half of 2021 alone. $1 billion is only a small fraction of the trillion-dollar payments industry, however retail interest in cryptocurrencies is picking up, suggesting the market has room to grow, especially with younger generations. Sheffield says that no single predominant spending category has emerged in crypto-linked card use.

Survey data suggests that younger generations are increasingly diverting wealth into cryptocurrencies and digital assets. This is especially true for the most affluent members of these generations, which are especially prized by financial institutions and card networks.

A Michelmores survey of 501 ‘affluent Millennials’ in the United Kingdom found that one in five have invested in cryptocurrencies and a CNBC survey of 750 investors conducted in April and May of 2021 reports that nearly half of Millennial millionaires have at least 25% of their wealth in cryptocurrencies.

Millennial interest in crypto isn’t limited to the Western world — a recent Mastercard MA -1% survey found that Middle Eastern and African Millennials surveyed during February and March of 2021 are especially interested in crypto with 67% agreeing they are more open to using crypto now than they were in 2020. Meanwhile in Asia, India and China each account for 33% of the $9.4 million worth of weekly peer-to-peer payments volume in the region. In both nations, tech savvy millennials with aspirations of wealth are leading the trade.

The Covid-19 pandemic only accelerated this trend by simultaneously spurring savings ambitions and interest in cryptocurrencies.

Approximately 70% of burgeoning retail brokerage platform Robinhood’s $80.9 billion assets under custody came from users aged between 18 and 40. $11.5 billion of those assets under custody are cryptocurrencies, according to the firm’s S-1 filing, and for the three months ended March 31, 2021, 17% of its total revenue was derived from transaction-based revenues earned from cryptocurrency transactions. This number is up from 4% for the last three months of 2020. All of this data suggests high interest among retail traders between 18 and 40 in crypto assets.

As retail brokerage accounts boomed, the crypto market was also hitting new heights, adding to the excitement among younger generations. Bitcoin reached its all-time-high price of $64,654 on April 14, 2021, just after the one year anniversary of the start of the pandemic. The market crashed a month later, bottoming out in July at a $1.2 trillion value for all cryptocurrency in circulation. Since then, the crypto economy has started to recover. The market broke past $2 trillion again on Wednesday, August 11, for the first time in nearly three months.

While investors are still mostly thinking long-term, a time will come when they need to generate liquidity from their holdings. Speaking to that effect, Sheffield argues that even if crypto owners intend to HODL (hold on for dear life, a crypto rallying cry), the day will come when they want to spend.

When that happens, Lisa Ellis, partner and senior equity analyst at research firm MoffettNathanson noted that they won’t want to go through the often arduous process of converting that crypto into fiat because of what Visa is doing.

“Brokerages like Fidelity figured out a long time ago that they should — and Merrill Lynch — figured out that they should issue a card against the balance in your brokerage account because that way you can keep your money in the brokerage account and you’re not constantly moving money,” Ellis said. “It’s basically the same. This is just allowing people to keep funds in what’s essentially a brokerage account and keep it in crypto. And then if they need it for spending fine and people like to do that.”

These developments are unlikely to stop with crypto-fiat payments. In pursuit of creating opportunities for seamless crypto transactions, Visa is finding new ways to appeal to crypto platforms who are looking to expand client offerings. Among these upgrades is the ability for crypto firms to settle payments using a dollar-pegged and quickly-growing stablecoin, USDC. As of writing, USDC’s market cap stands at $27.39 billion.

Typically when transactions are carried out with a crypto-linked debit card offered by a company like Crypto.com, that company converts the crypto to fiat and then sends the funds to Visa, who then sends the funds to the merchant’s bank for the appropriate amount and in the correct currency. Through a partnership with the first federally chartered digital asset bank, Anchorage, Visa will now accept USDC, instead of fiat, from card providers like Crypto.com.

“The goal is if we can make it easier for crypto platforms to issue Visa cards and interact with Visa we think many more — and we’re already seeing a ton of demand in crypto companies coming to us — will have a path to creating a Visa card,” Sheffield said. “We are committed to Visa being the preferred network for crypto wallets and so we want to meet them where they are.”

Updated: 8-19-2021

Visa Adds Crypto Payments Startup Wyre To Its Fast Track Payments Program

Wyre’s push-to-debit program will now allow instant payouts of crypto holdings to users’ bank accounts using the Visa debit cards.

Blockchain-based payments firm Wyre has joined Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Program, allowing Wyre to integrate Visa’s technology and additional functionalities.

* Wyre said it will now be able to provide additional functionality to its users, allowing them to move money between crypto and fiat with two new offerings.

* Wyre’s push-to-debit program will now allow instant payouts of crypto holdings to users’ bank accounts using the Visa debit cards.

* Secondly, Wyre’s card issuance program will allow its users to convert and spend their balances in real-time using Visa debit cards.

* The Visa Fintech Fast Track Program was launched in the U.S. in July 2019 to enable fintech startups to leverage Visa’s network, resources and services to scale quickly.

* help expand their business in the most efficient way possible, said the firm in a press release.

American Investors Inclined To Buy Crypto With Credit Card, New Study Reveals

Out of the 1,000 respondents, 21% plan to take on consumer debt for buying cryptocurrency, while more than 20% have decided to use either their bank savings or refinancing their homes.

As the crypto ecosystem continues to mature and go mainstream, a new study of Millennials has shown a change in investor sentiment and their spending habits.

Surveying 1,000 American crypto investors, GamblersPick found that the average Millennial today holds a little more than $1,800 in crypto.

The survey reveals that 25% of the respondents bought crypto, using credit cards instead of fiat currency, and have borrowed nearly $500 from banks and families to make up their existing portfolio. When asked about their source for future crypto investments, 21% of surveyors revealed their plan to take on consumer debt, while more than 20% have decided to use either their bank savings or to refinance their homes.

Surprisingly, Baby Boomers have borrowed over $4,000 on average to purchase cryptocurrency. Compared to this, newer generations have taken fewer loans to enhance their crypto portfolios.

The main reasons for holding crypto are the perceived possibility of a price surge and diversification of the portfolio. While Elon Musk stands out as the biggest influence for the surveyed Americans, investors are also considering inputs from traditional investor Warren Buffet and prominent musician/rapper Snoop Dogg.

Out of the lot, Baby Boomers reportedly hold the highest average crypto holdings of almost $2,000 and believe in cashing out only after realizing 65% profit. While women, in general, were more likely to sell crypto holdings for paying medical expenses, 31% of Generation Z and 17% of Millennials are keeping their options open about paying off student loans with crypto. On average, respondents intend to hold crypto anywhere between six months and five years.

Reddit currently stands as the go-to platform for making crypto-related decisions. However, Millennials rely heavily on online forums, Twitter and YouTube for investment guidance.

A similar set of surveys of more than 4,000 people by Harris Poll showed minority communities in the United States are more than twice as likely to invest in crypto assets. About 25% of the respondents from the LGBTQ+ community reported holding crypto, as well as 23% of Black Americans and 17% of Hispanic Americans.

In tune with higher crypto awareness among minority communities, the poll showed that 43% of Black Americans and 39% of LGBTQ+ communities experienced discrimination from banking and loan institutions.

The Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema believes that crypto’s “new, open and seemingly fewer barriers to entry” can be one of the biggest reasons for rising interest from the smaller communities.

Updated: 9-9-2021

Mastercard Acquires Crypto Tracing Firm CipherTrace

Details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Payments giant Mastercard has agreed to buy CipherTrace, a firm that scans blockchains for illicit transactions.

The surprise acquisition announced Thursday by the companies in a press release gives Mastercard the ability to track over 900 cryptocurrencies. Details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The deal is the latest sign of robust activity in the crypto tracing sector as governments and banks look to ramp up monitoring and compliance.

Earlier this year, Daniel Loeb’s Third Point Ventures led a $27 million investment in CipherTrace. That round was on the heels of a $100 million Series D that valued competing firm Chainalysis at $4.2 billion.

In a statement, Mastercard President of Cyber & Intelligence Ajay Bhalla said, “With the rapid growth of the digital asset ecosystem comes the need to ensure it is trusted and safe. Our aim is to build upon the complementary capabilities of Mastercard and CipherTrace to do just this.”

Mastercard has been ramping up its crypto efforts of late. In July, the payments giant said it would be piloting the use of the Circle-administered USD coin (USDC) as a key bridge between crypto-using buyers and cash-loving merchants. In February, Mastercard said it was planning to let merchants accept crypto through its network by year’s end.

“Our philosophy on cryptocurrencies is straightforward: It’s about choice,” Mastercard’s crypto VP, Raj Dhamodharan, said at the time. “Mastercard isn’t here to recommend you start using cryptocurrencies. But we are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value.”

Updated: 9-7-2021

Visa Reportedly Aims To Integrate Bitcoin Payments In Brazil

Visa Brazil executive outlines plans for implementing crypto assets such as Bitcoin onto the payments platform.

In a recent interview with local Brazilian news outlet Seu Dinheiro, Eduardo Abreu, vice president of new business at payments giant Visa, revealed the company’s intentions to integrate crypto assets onto its platform for both payments and as a store of value, including the leading cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC).

Back in March 2021, Visa’s CEO of Brazil, Fernando Teles, introduced the concept of adopting tokenized payments, as well as an application programming interface, or API, designed to bridge the gap between traditional financial institutions and crypto services.

In the interview, Abreu shared his belief that greater adoption will require the integration of traditional banking activity within the cryptocurrency ecosystem so that customers can transact with fiat and crypto within the same environment.

Visa already offers 180 currencies on its platform and will look to leverage its 170 million global customer base and established fintech relationships with national banks Alterbank, Ripio and Zro in maximizing adoption in the region.

There was no specific announcement as to the date of the launch, but it is widely expected in the coming months.

“The great advantage of adopting Bitcoin is, without a doubt, its ease. Without needing to exchange a fiat currency, there is an optimization of exchanges when using Bitcoin,” said Abreu.

Alongside this service, Abreu also suggested the possibility of customers receiving cashback in crypto:

“Brazilians already have the culture of receiving card points, miles, discounts, etc. Why not receive cryptocurrencies with their credit card as well?”

Visa is no stranger to making headlines in the cryptocurrency space. In a bid to portray its pioneer status as a cultural intermediary of traditional and modern finance, Visa last month purchased a CryptoPunk nonfungible token avatar for 50 Ether (ETH) — $150,000 at the time of sale.

 

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Coinbase Hit With Outage As Bitcoin Price Drops $1.8K In 15 Minutes

Samourai Wallet Releases Privacy-Enhancing CoinJoin Feature (#GotBitcoin?)

There Are Now More Than 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs Around The World (#GotBitcoin?)

You Can Now Get Bitcoin Rewards When Booking At Hotels.Com (#GotBitcoin?)

North America’s Largest Solar Bitcoin Mining Farm Coming To California (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin On Track For Best Second Quarter Price Gain On Record (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Hash Rate Climbs To New Record High Boosting Network Security (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Exceeds 1Million Active Addresses While Coinbase Custodies $1.3B In Assets

Why Bitcoin’s Price Suddenly Surged Back $5K (#GotBitcoin?)

Zebpay Becomes First Exchange To Add Lightning Payments For All Users (#GotBitcoin?)

Coinbase’s New Customer Incentive: Interest Payments, With A Crypto Twist (#GotBitcoin?)

The Best Bitcoin Debit (Cashback) Cards Of 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)

Real Estate Brokerages Now Accepting Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Ernst & Young Introduces Tax Tool For Reporting Cryptocurrencies (#GotBitcoin?)

Recession Is Looming, or Not. Here’s How To Know (#GotBitcoin?)

How Will Bitcoin Behave During A Recession? (#GotBitcoin?)

Many U.S. Financial Officers Think a Recession Will Hit Next Year (#GotBitcoin?)

Definite Signs of An Imminent Recession (#GotBitcoin?)

What A Recession Could Mean for Women’s Unemployment (#GotBitcoin?)

Investors Run Out of Options As Bitcoin, Stocks, Bonds, Oil Cave To Recession Fears (#GotBitcoin?)

Goldman Is Looking To Reduce “Marcus” Lending Goal On Credit (Recession) Caution (#GotBitcoin?)

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