Visa’s crypto strategy targets stablecoin settlements

Payment company Visa is seeking to build a “muscle memory” to settlements, aiming to allow customers to convert digital assets to fiat currencies on its platform, according to the company’s head of crypto division Cuy Sheffield at the StarkWare Sessions 2023.

“We’ve been testing how to actually accept settlement payments from issuers in USDC starting on Ethereum and paying out in USDC (USDC) on Ethereum. So, these are large value settlement payments.”, noted Sheffield in a fireside chat at the event. Cointelegraph’s team is on the ground in Tel-Aviv covering the two-day Ethereum community conference.

According to the executive, global settlement with digital assets and fiat currencies is one of the avenues that Visa is investing in. He specifically stated:

“That’s been one of the areas where we want to build muscle memory. The same way that we can convert between dollars in euros on a cross border transaction, we should be able to convert between digital tokenized dollars and traditional dollars.”

The payment giant has been exploring how to incorporate blockchain technology into its existing network to move money faster, but settlements still take place on the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or SWIFT system, a not for profit cooperative society formed by European bankers with the purpose of facilitating secure and standardized transaction communication between its members.

“We set all over Swift, so we can’t move money as frequently as we’d like because there are a number of limitations that exist in those networks. And so, we’ve been experimenting, we publicly announced. We’ve been testing how to actually accept settlement payments [with stablecoins],” Sheffield explained. 

Recently speaking at Visa’s annual shareholder meeting, former CEO Al Kelly briefly shared the firm’s plans for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and private stablecoins, claiming that “stablecoins and central bank digital currencies have the potential to play a meaningful role in the payments space, and we have a number of initiatives underway.”

Sheffield confirmed the company’s view for blockchain technology and digital assets. “We’re thinking a lot about how to take some of the value that visa provides on existing bank rails, with existing forms of beyond in a rebuild that on top of blockchain rails, using stable boards. If we think there are huge opportunities in that area, it just kind of stays on emerging.”

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