As the price of Bitcoin peeks over $10,000, other stories seem to be left behind. The payment processor VISA has been quite busy for the last few months. We have reported several developments, including the importance of Central Bank Digital Currencies and expanding its internal blockchain team. Up to this point, VISA has been tight-lipped on mentioning Bitcoin in particular. That all changed this week.
In a particularly prescient move, VISA issued a report on July 22nd titled “Advancing Our Approach to Digital Currency.” Perhaps the most exciting section is the plan to support digital currencies. One of the fundamental values is “Remaining currency- and network-agnostic: We plan to support the digital currencies and blockchain networks that our clients and partners demand, in keeping with our broader network-of-networks strategy.”
That phrase “currencies and blockchain networks that our clients and partners demand” has caught the attention of financial pundits like Mati Greenspan of QuantumEconomics.io.
Mati has the right to be this happy. If VISA partners are demanding it work with Bitcoin and blockchain, this is good for the ecosystem. Companies involved with credit and payment systems have been slow to adopt cryptocurrencies. Square and RobinHood are the exceptions. Support for cryptos could make purchasing them less complicated and more acceptable than in the past.
Banks and other financial institutions have traditionally shunned Bitcoin. The popular media still calls it the currency of criminals and hackers. VISA’s endorsement carries a lot of weight, especially considering the slight bump in crypto prices over the weekend.
Step by Step
VISA’s news comes on the same day the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) had a similar announcement. From its website, the purpose of the OCC is to “ensures that national banks and federal savings associations operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial services, treat customers fairly, and comply with applicable laws and regulations.”
The OCC has allowed federally chartered banks to store crypto assets. In short, your bank can now hold your cryptocurrency. Interestingly the press release says this service may extend to more than passively holding private keys. Could this be offering native crypto exchanges? The idea of trading Bitcoin on Wells Fargo might seem antithetical to long-term hodlers, but newcomers would likely appreciate the accessibility.
As the phrase goes, “Now we wait.” The rollout of VISA crypto services have not been finalized, nor has any bank announced it will be supporting Bitcoin. But if the bull market secures upward momentum we could see this change rapidly. And