A lot of people have cryptocurrency these days, and it may be burning a hole in their pockets: Consumers spent more than $1 billion worth of crypto in the first half of 2021 by charging stuff on crypto-linked Visa cards, a sign of just how big the market for digital currencies has become.
Visa said on Wednesday it now partners with 50 crypto platforms, including Coinbase, Crypto.com, and CoinZoom, on card programs that let users spend their cryptocurrencies at 70 million merchants worldwide. Holders of the credit cards don’t have to do anything special: They just use a crypto-linked card, and Visa will convert the payment into the merchant’s preferred currency.
A year ago, these programs didn’t exist in a meaningful way, Visa said in an email.
The crypto credit cards are part of Visa’s strategy to make cryptocurrencies, which are held in a so-called digital wallet, or online system that stores the money, more mainstream. In March, Visa began allowing transactions to be settled directly in a stablecoin called USD Coin. Stablecoins are digital currencies that are tied to an outside asset to reduce their volatility, usually a fiat currency, which is backed by a central bank.
Visa also said it is seeing digital wallets and crypto platforms build payment products entirely with digital currency. For example, it said one of its partners, FTX cryptocurrency platform, is paying half of its remote employees in USD Coin.
“It’s clear that the crypto community sees value in linking digital currencies to Visa’s global network,” the company said in a release.
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