Visa aiming mass adoption with crypto pilot scheme for banks

Global payments giant Visa is launching a new crypto API pilot scheme designed to help banks facilitate Bitcoin and cryptocurrency services. First Boulevard, a digital bank whose mission is to help “Black America build wealth,” is the first to participate in the groundbreaking program.

Jack Forestell, the Chief Product Officer at Visa, said the firm is already working on bridging the gap between crypto and its merchant network. But the API scheme intends to take this to the next level by bringing banks into the ecosystem.

Using Visa’s crypto APIs, banks can purchase, custody, and trade cryptocurrencies held by Anchorage digital bank. Anchorage provides institutional-grade custodial services. Its co-founder Diogo Mónica describes this as “financial plumbing that other companies depend on.”

The scheme will serve as a testing ground for banks to access and incorporate crypto products into their lineup. Visa expects the finalized service to launch later on this year.

Visa states that teaming up with First Boulevard was a deliberate attempt to level the playing field. Especially in terms of bringing new technologies to marginalized groups.

The partnership will new Visa-backed product offerings from First Boulevard, including a cashback scheme and Visa debit card. But crucially, First Boulevard and Visa will work together to develop educational resources to demystify crypto amongst under-represented communities.

Back in early 2018, Visa CEO Alfred Kelly spoke badly of cryptocurrency. Kelly called it a speculative commodity not backed by anything. What’s more, he flat out refused to deal with it.

However, later on in the year, it became apparent that Kelly was having a change of heart. Speaking on CNBC, he acknowledged that crypto was gaining ground in terms of legitimacy. And while he remained somewhat gridlocked on the matter, he conceded that Visa will embrace the trend if need be.

Today, Visa is one of many tech giants driving the crypto uprising forward. And with its API pilot scheme, this may well turn into a full-blown revolution.

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