The CEO of credit card giant Visa remains confident it can integrate blockchain-based solutions into its services and offerings to power the next generation of payments.
Speaking on a conference call at Visa’s annual shareholder meeting on Jan. 24, outgoing CEO Al Kelly — who will officially step down on Feb. 1 — briefly shared the company’s plans for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and privately owned stablecoins.
According to a January 24 article in the San Francisco Business Times, Kelly said:
“It is still very early days, but we still believe that stablecoins and central bank digital currencies have the potential to play an important role in the payments space, and we have several initiatives in the pipeline.”
“We’ve had a significant amount of investment in crypto funds and companies as we look to invest in the payments ecosystem,” explained the outgoing CEO.
Kelly also emphasized that Visa’s balance sheet has not been affected by some of the “high-profile failures” that have rocked the cryptocurrency space in 2022:
“We have had no credit losses related to these failures. […] In everything we do, please know that we place a strong emphasis on maintaining the integrity of the Visa payment system, the payment system as a whole, and of course our brand reputation based on trust.”
Over the years, Visa has worked on a number of cryptocurrency-related initiatives.
His research team began working on a blockchain interoperability project in September 2021 called the Universal Payment Channel (UPC) Initiative. The project is designed to create a “network of networks” for central bank digital currencies and private stablecoins to pass through various payment channels.
However, Visa has not provided an update on the UPC for over 12 months.
Recently, the payments giant announced on December 20 that it is developing a plan to allow automated bill payments from a user’s Ethereum-powered wallet.
Visa also launched several “no-fee” cryptocurrency debit cards recently, including an expiring contract with FTX and a partnership with Blockchain.com on October 26, which is still in effect.
While Visa’s 2022 annual report only includes data through Sept. 30 — about five weeks before the FTX crash — more information may be revealed at Visa’s Q1 2023 earnings conference call on Jan. 26.
Visa President Ryan McInerney will officially replace Al Kelly as CEO on February 1, while Kelly will remain CEO.
McInerney seems to be just as, if not more optimistic about blockchain-based payment solutions as well.
In an interview with Fortune in November, McInerney said Visa still has “$14 trillion in consumer spending that could be digitized” and that they continue to explore where crypto payments can best be leveraged.